Storing solar thermal energy - seasonal storage
In order to utilize solar thermal energy when the sun does not provide sufficient contribution through the flat solar collector, it is necessary to store solar thermal energy so that the energy can be utilized regardless of the sun's appearance.
Storage under ground in combination with heat pump
This is a solar thermal enrrgy system storage already in use. Examples include piping that is placed 1-2 meters below ground level. Solar thermal energy is circulated in the pipes and the ground warms up. Later, when there is no sunshine, you use a heat pump to bring the solar energy back. Depending on the surface, the energy can be stored for long periods and from one season to another. The same method can be used with a borehole, but it assumes there is no drift in the ground.
Salting / crystallization of energy
This method is still in a research and development stage. The solar thermal energy is bound in a salt / crystal structure and is released only by the addition of a small amount of energy. Thus the solar thermal energy can be stored virtually unlimited.
Phase change materials - PCM:
This method uses advanced molecular boiling temperature to absorb or emit heat. In this manner solar thermal energy is absorbed when we have too much of it as during the summer. Later, when we need the energy, the energy is released.
The IEA estimates that new solar thermal energy systems storage methods will be on the market sometime between 2015 and 2020. IEA has also forecasted all new homes in the western world will be 100 % self-sufficient with solar energy already in 2030.
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