Solar thermal energy is defined as a process of conserving sunlight for thermal energy. It is really different from the photovoltaic energy. PV technology is based on the concept of converting sunlight into electric current. The glass installed in PV panels allows only sunlight to pass in while it impedes the way of heat. Solar thermal energy is a direct way of utilizing solar heat. Solar thermal power is capable to replace conventional power houses which are based on the use of fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas.
Types of Thermal Collectors
There are three basic types of thermal collectors. They are termed as low thermal collectors, medium thermal collectors and high thermal collectors. Low thermal collectors are like flat plates which are used to heat water in the pools. The medium thermal collectors are also like flat plates but are more useful because they can support the commercial and residential heating systems. The high thermal collectors are often composed of glass and lenses and they are used to collect solar heat for generating electricity. Solar thermal power plants are based on the use of high temperature thermal collectors. Solar thermal power system is one of the most cost effective and environment friendly way of generating electricity.
How Solar Thermal Power works
The electricity which is produced by using solar thermal energy is a relatively easy. Solar thermal power plants are easy to operate when the equipments are installed properly. Then the working of these solar panels is somewhat automatic and no necessary monitoring is required. Solar power plants are based on the use of equipments such as parabolic dish. These parabolic dishes track the heat of the sun at a focal point which is usually a glass or lenses. These solar reflectors are attached to the turbines at one end. When the sufficient heat is stored and gathered. The fluid in the collectors runs the turbines which result in electricity generation. The parabolic trough or concentrated solar power systems are an easy and cheap way to track the energy of the sun. To date it is not considered really efficient in the terms of total electricity generation but it is good and safe power substitute. Another way of producing thermal power is by using updraft solar towers. These solar towers heat the wind contained in the pipes then that wind is heated to rise above which in turn is used to convert water into steam. The steam generated in this process is further used to run the turbines for electricity generation. The parabolic trough doses not occupy that much area to produce useful electricity. They are capable of producing 64MW energy per square mile in a year.
Notes : Useful Vidoe presentation on Solar Thermal Power
Benefits of Deploying Solar Thermal Heat
Solar thermal plants which are operating in USA can cater the needs of 35,000 thousand people. This can replace the 2.3 million barrel oil used for running traditional power. The solar power plants can create many new jobs which offer better compensation packages. Using only 1% of total deserts in the world can provide as much electricity which we receive from conventional electricity procedures. The solar thermal towers can which are connected to the electricity grids can process much of the heat required for the industrial applications. Solar towers can also provide hybrid operations. The use of solar tower offers high energy conversion. Parabolic dishes are small stand alone equipments which can help to produce dispatchable electricity. Solar thermal power can be combined with fossil fuels or wind turbines to produce hybrid electricity. Solar thermal power plants work very efficiently if they are installed in direct angle to sun.