Solar Thermal Payback

What Is Solar Thermal Energy?

Solar Thermal Energy is the process where the energy of the sun is collected to produce heat which can then be used in a variety of ways. The heat can be used to generate electricity and to heat water. Larger facilities generally use solar thermal energy for the production of electricity, whereas it is more commonly used for the heating of water in domestic or residential situations.

How Does a Solar Thermal Energy System Work?

A solar thermal energy system is a collection of plates or panels similar to PV solar panels which are installed on the property roof in the same way as PV panels. The solar thermal plates are connected to a water tank which is installed inside the property. The plates or panels accrue energy from the sun and that energy heats a glycol solution within the system. The heated glycol solution is then pumped into the hot water tank through special coils to heat the water inside. Once the water has been heated, the glycol solution is then transported back to the plates to be heated again giving an endless supply of hot water ready for the homeowner to use.

Renewable Heat Incentive

The Renewable Heat Incentive, or RHI, is a government scheme which entitles customers to a fixed annual payment in return for generating their own renewable heat. This scheme means that the customer will be paid an annual sum for a fixed 20 year period and, depending on the size of the heating system installed and how much energy is produced, can work out quite lucrative. The government will pay the customer 18p for every kW/h produced so if the solar thermal energy system installed produces 2,100 kW/h of heat per year the customer would be entitled to an annual payback amount of £378.00. This government scheme applies to commercial and industrial buildings as well as residential.

If you are considering having a solar thermal energy system installed, then you will need to make sure that both the solar thermal panel manufacturers and installation company you opt for both qualify under the government scheme to ensure you receive your payback entitlement.

The Benefits Of Solar Thermal Energy Production

The sun's energy has been recognised and utilised for hundreds of years for many things from drying washing on the line to drying and preserving fish and meat for storage, but it is only in recent times that we have started to take advantage of this free energy source for domestic and industrial benefit.

Just as PV solar panels have many benefits, so too do solar thermal energy systems and, depending on the size of the system installed, could well reduce the average household heating bill by up to 80%. This combined with the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme alone may be enough to persuade many homeowners to opt for a solar thermal energy system, but with the added benefit of being completely environmentally friendly, solar thermal energy really does make good sense.

Hopefully, in the not too distant future, we will start to see all homes installed with solar systems and then we might just begin to significantly reduce our collective carbon footprint.

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