Wednesday, June 12, 2024

What is solar thermal? » Yale Climate Connections

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When people talk about solar panels, they’re usually referring to solar photovoltaic panels, which convert the sun’s energy to electricity. But solar PV is just one way to harness the power of the sun.

Gasco: “Solar thermal is, I’d say, the simpler and kind of overshadowed little brother almost to solar PV. … I think it’s a really great technology in the simplicity and the efficiency of it.”

Gwe Gasco is with Eighth Fire Solar, an Indigenous-led initiative in Northern Minnesota.

The group manufactures and installs solar thermal panels, which absorb sunlight and convert it to heat.

The heat is transferred to air that’s pumped from inside the home, through the panel, and then back into the home.

Each glass-coated aluminum panel is about as big as a door and gets mounted to a home’s south-facing exterior wall.

Gasco: “So you can catch that sun when it’s lower in the sky in the winter, and that just helps us with heat generation.”

These systems cannot supply all the heat a home needs in a Minnesota winter. But Gasco says they can reduce the need for other heating fuels by about 25 to 30%.

So solar thermal provides a way for people to save money on heating bills and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media

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