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Solar Energy

Retrieved from solarenergy.com

John H. Thermal
Susie Solar
Peter Photon
Sam Silicon

Engineering 100W
Professor Anagnos
Spring 2007, MW 11:30-1:20

Submitted:
April 18, 2007
Solar Energy

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1 INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................................................... 1
2 PHOTOVOLTAICS....................................................................................................................... 2
2.1 PHOTOVOLTAIC EFFECT ......................................................................................................................................... 2
2.2 SOLAR CELL STRUCTURE AND MATERIALS.................................................................................................. 2
2.3 PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM ........................................................................................................................................ 4
2.4 APPLICATIOIN.............................................................................................................................................................. 4
2.5 PHOTOVOLTAIC EFFECIENCY ............................................................................................................................... 4
2.6 COST................................................................................................................................................................................ 5
2.7 LIMITATIONS................................................................................................................................................................ 5
2.8 BENEFIT ......................................................................................................................................................................... 5
2.9 POLICY ........................................................................................................................................................................... 5
3 LARGE SCALE SOLAR THERMAL POWER PLANTS.............................................................. 7
3.1 SOLAR AND THERMAL FUNCTIONALITY ......................................................................................................... 7
3.2 PARABOLIC TROUGH................................................................................................................................................ 7
3.3 PARABOLIC DISH ....................................................................................................................................................... 8
3.4 POWER TOWER ........................................................................................................................................................... 8
3.5 BENEFITS AND LIMITATIONS ............................................................................................................................... 9
4 ACTIVE SOLAR HEATING ..................................................................................................... 10
4.1 RESIDENTIAL SOLAR HOT WATER.................................................................................................................... 10
4.2 SYSTEM MATERIALS AND DESIGN .................................................................................................................. 10
4.3 COSTS AND INCENTIVES ...................................................................................................................................... 10
4.4 EFFICENCIES AND LIFESPANS ............................................................................................................................. 11
4.5 LIMITATIONS.............................................................................................................................................................. 11
4.6 ADDITIONAL APPLICATION: SPACE HEATING.............................................................................................. 11
5 PASSIVE SOLAR........................................................................................................................ 13
5.1 PASSIVE DESIGN ...................................................................................................................................................... 13
5.2 PASSIVE SOLAR FUNCTIONALITY..................................................................................................................... 13
5.3 APPLICATION ............................................................................................................................................................. 13
5.4 MATERIALS................................................................................................................................................................. 15
5.5 COST / EFFICIENCY / LIFE SPAN........................................................................................................................... 16
6 CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................................ 17
7 REFERENCES............................................................................................................................. 18
8 APPENDIX.................................................................................................................................. 20

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1: RESIDENTIAL PG&E GAS RATES OVER TEN YEARS ............................................................................... 1


Figure 2: CRYSTALLINE SILICON P/N JUNCTION ....................................................................................................... 3
Figure 3: A FIELD OF TROUGH COLLECTORS IN THE MOJAVE DESERT ............................................................ 7
Figure 4: SCHEMATIC OF A PARABOLIC TROUGH COLLECTORS......................................................................... 7
Figure 5: PARABOLIC DISH STYLE CSP ......................................................................................................................... 8
Figure 6: POWER TOWER AND ARRAY OF HELIOSTATS OF SOLAR II................................................................. 9
Figure 7: COMPARISON OF THE AVERAGE DIFFERENT HEATING LOADS FOR ENTIRE YEAR ................. 11
Figure 8: PVT SYSTEM DIAGRAM .................................................................................................................................. 12
Figure 9: THE SUN’S SEASONAL POSITION IN RESPECT TO THE BUILDING LAYOUT ................................. 14
Figure 10: THE SUN’S SEASONAL RAYS EITHER ENTERING OR BEING BLOCKED BY THE
ARCHITECTURE OF THE BUILDING .................................................................................................................... 14

LIST OF TABLES

Table 1: SUMMARY OF PHOTOVOLTAIC AND PHOTOELECTROCHEMICAL SOLAR CELLS......................... 4


Table 2: ESTIMATED NET SYSTEM COST AND MONTHLY PAYMENTS (2kW AC SYSTEM) .......................... 6
Table 3: COMPARISON OF ALTERNATIVE SOLAR THERMAL POWER SYSTEM TECHNOLOGIES .............. 9

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1 INTRODUCTION
From gasoline to heating oil, and coal to natural gas, the world is dependent on fossil fuel energy sources.
Global awareness of this dependency has increased dramatically in recent years, as environmental disasters
and rising energy costs have put fossil fuel usage under increasing public scrutiny. The search for
alternative energy sources is made necessary not only because of the finite nature of fossil fuels, but also
because of the economic impracticality of their costs. Figure 1 illustrates the increasing cost of fossil fuels
by plotting the price of natural gas in California over a ten year period (PG&E, 2007). The graph shows the
volatility in the price, but as an average, the price has been steadily increasing.

Figure 1: RESIDENTIAL PG&E GAS RATES OVER TEN YEARS


(Retrieved and tabulated from www.pge.com)

One possible energy source that could stabilize prices and limit environmental tradeoffs is solar energy.
Solar energy is perhaps the most abundant energy source available on earth; the amount of solar energy
hitting the planet in just one hour could power all human activities for a full year (Pahl, 39). There are
many methods to harness this energy into something useful. Active solar energy systems use mechanical
means to aid in the collection and transfer of solar energy, and include photovoltaic systems to convert
sunlight directly into electricity, and solar thermal systems to create heat for either electricity generation or
residential use. Passive solar energy systems take advantage of smart architectural and engineering design
techniques to harness solar energy without additional mechanical means. This paper provides a brief
description of each of these active and passive solar energy systems, with an emphasis on design, materials,
functionality, applications, costs, efficiencies and lifespan, policies to encourage their use, and system
limitations.

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2 PHOTOVOLTAICS

2.1 PHOTOVOLTAIC EFFECT


A phenomenon using semiconductor material to absorb sunlight to produce electric current was discovered
in 1839 by Edmond Becquerel (EERE, 2006). The energy absorbed from the sunlight caused the electrons
to move from its’ original position in the semiconductor material, which produced electrical current flow
(EERE, 2006). This phenomenon is called the photovoltaic (PV) effect. Unfortunately, the original design
had disadvantages - the amount of energy that needs to convert from solar energy to electrical energy was
huge (efficiency for most solar cells is about 15% to 25% range (Gratzel, 2001, p.344)). Ever since the
photovoltaic process was discovered, engineers have been trying to improve the idea by using other
materials in the fabrication process to improve the efficiency.

2. SOLAR CELL STRUCTURE AND MATERIALS


Photovoltaic solar cells are made from the following three different semiconductor types: silicon (Si),
polycrystalline thin films, and single-crystalline thin film (EERE, 2006). The silicon types are single-
crystalline, multi-crystalline, and amorphous (EERE, 2005). The polycrystalline thin films types are copper
indium diselenide (CIS), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and thin-film silicon. The single crystalline thin films
are made of gallium arsenide (GaAs) (EERE, 2005, Dec. 23). The first two generations of device structures
used in solar cells are homojunction, heterojunction, p-i-n and n-i-p, and multijunction. These four device
structures are based on solid state junction device technology. A next generation of photovoltaic solar cells
uses nanocrystalline materials and conductive polymer films (Gratzel, 2001, p.338).

In the homojunction devices, the crystalline silicon is made of two different layers, n-type (labeled as n-
layer in Figure 1) and p-type layers (labeled as p-layer in the Figure 1) (EERE, 2005). The n-type layer is
made of electrons which are negative charges; where as the p-type is made of holes which are positive
charges. These n-type and p-type layers act neutral when they are separated. If the n-type and p-type layers
with doping process are placed together to form a P/N junction, excess electrons in the n-type layer move
over to the p-type layer to fill the holes, causing the positive charge built along the n-type layer and the
negative charge built along the p-type layer (EERE, 2006). The excessive electrons are the electrons that
were added to silicon material during the doping process (EERE, 2006). As a result the electric current
flows out of the positive n-type layer due to the potential difference. A P/N junction is depicted on Figure 2.

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Figure 2: CRYSTALLINE SILICON P/N JUNCTION


(Retrieved from EERE, 2006)

In heterojunction devices, the CIS is composed of CdS and CuInSe2 materials. This CIS absorbs light
energy better than silicon because it has two layers—a bottom layer and an additional thin-film material on
the top layer (EERE, 2005). Since the top layer is a transparent film, light passes through it to the bottom
layer, and the light energy generates electrons and holes at the junction (EERE, 2005). Also in the
heterojunction devices, the top layer has a high bandgap, while the bottom layer has a low bandgap (EERE,
2005). The potential difference provides a large voltage drop across the two materials. The advantage of the
heterojunction over the homojunction device is that homojunction requires doping process to p- and n-type
layers while the heterojunction does not require any doping.

In p-i-n and n-i-p devices, the cell structures are made up of three layers sandwiched together (EERE,
2005). The electric field is generated when the light energy frees the electrons and holes in the intrinsic
layer, which is an undoped material (EERE, 2005).

In the multijunction devices, the cell structures are cascaded, providing higher efficiencies than the first
generation of solar cells (EERE, 2005). This efficiency is the result of varying bandgaps in each layer,
which allow the different layers to absorb different spectrums of the sunlight (EERE, 2005). The top layer
has the highest bandgap, and the bottom layer has the lowest bandgap (EERE, 2005).

Third-generation solar cells are made of photoelectrochemical cells, polymer solar cells, or nanocrystal
solar cells. The new photoelectrochemical device diverges from the classical solid state junction devices
because it uses an electrolyte—such as a liquid, gel, or an organic solid—and a semiconductor for
conducting, instead of two semiconductors in contact (Gratzel, 2001, p.339). The photoelectrochemical
materials create electric power from chemical reactions between the electrolyte and semiconductor
(Gratzel, 2001, p.339). Advantages to nanocrystalline and conductive polymers include cheaper fabrication,
have flexible substrates, and are easily shaped and tinted for some applications, compared to the traditional
solid state design devices (Gratzel, 2001). Another third generation photovoltaic device is nanocrystal solar

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cells. The nanocrystal solar cells control the nanosized semiconductor’s “composition, size, shape, and also
integrate nanoparticles into matrices (plastics) to form optimally functional cells” (Alivisatos, 2003).

2.3 PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM


A photovoltaic system consists of an array of photovoltaic modules, a junction box, an integrated
interconnection harness, a DC to AC converter, a power distribution unit, and a storage device. A
photovoltaic module is a large solar panel with cascading solar cells. The integrated interconnection is the
wire harness that links up the entire photovoltaic system connection. The junction box is where all the
electrical connections come together. The power distribution unit handles and manages the power being
stored in the storage device. The power distribution unit also indicates the power telemetry and
temperature.

2.4 APPLICATIOIN
Photovoltaic systems are used across the world. Most photovoltaic systems are generally installed on
rooftops of houses or buildings where there are high levels of sunlight and the energy absorption is at the
maximum. The system is connected to the conventional grid in parallel. When the sun is shining, the
photovoltaic system connects to the house to supply the electrical power to the house appliances. When the
solar modules are not absorbing enough light energy to produce electrical power, the photovoltaic system
automatically disconnects from the power grid.

2.5 PHOTOVOLTAIC EFFECIENCY


Efficiency is defined as the electric output over the solar energy input. Table 1 compares efficiencies of
various types of photovoltaic solar cells and modules, with an average efficiency of 17-18% (Gratzel, 2001,
P.344).

Table 1: SUMMARY OF PHOTOVOLTAIC AND PHOTOELECTROCHEMICAL SOLAR CELLS


(Retrieved from Gratzel, 2001, p.344)
Efficiency (%)
Type of cell Research and Technology Needs
Cell Module
Higher production yields, lowering of cost & energy
Crystalline Sicilicon 24 10 - 15 content
Lower manufacturing cost and complexity
Multicrystalline Silicon 18 9 - 12

Lower production costs, increase production volume


Amosphrous Silicon 13 7 and stability
Replace indium (too expensive & limited supply),
Copper indium diselenide (CulnSe2) 19 12 replace CdS window layer, scale up production

Dye-sensitized Nanostructured Improve efficiency and high-temperature stability, scale


10 - 11 7 up
Materials
Bipolar AlGaAs or Reduce materials cost, scale up
19 - 20 --
Si Photoelectrochemical Cells
Improve stability and efficiency
Organic Solar Cells 2-3 --

Note: Efficiency defined as conversion efficiency from solar to electrical power.

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Photovoltaic solar cell efficiency is dependent on the type of material used, the photovoltaic module,
system capacity and the quality of the interconnection between the module and the power distribution unit.
When compared to other modern engineering devices—such as an automobile, with an efficiency of 30-
35%—photovoltaic solar efficiency is extremely low. The following example illustrates how the low
efficiencies affect the size of the complete system. Using a poly-crystalline solar cell with an efficiency of
10%, and a household requirement of 1000 watts, then the house must have 100 to 200 square feet in order
to meet the household demand (California Energy Commission, 2003, P.3). Based on low efficiency of
first generation solar cell systems, even with the second or third generation solar cells with twice as much
crystalline silicon efficiency, the amount of rooftop area needed to support the 1000 watt system is about
50 to 100 square feet. Therefore, a large area is needed to install any photovoltaic system because the
efficiency of solar cells is low. To improve efficiency, new solar cell materials and designs must be
considered.

2.6 COST
The cost of a photovoltaic solar system is influenced by the solar cell material technology, availability of
solar cell material, production and panel availability, size of the solar panels, design, load demand, and
installation location. Due to many variables in the final cost, it is difficult to estimate the real price of a
photovoltaic system. Since the early 90’s until now, the Photovoltaic system prices have decreased steadily,
but higher efficiency solar systems will cost more (Solarbuzz, 2007). According to Solarbuzz Consultancy
Reports, the retail price of solar energy in the United States is under $5 per watt for modules greater than
70 watts (Solarbuzz, 2007). If production of the higher efficiency solar cells increases, then the price will
eventually drop. Maintenance costs must also be considered, with burned cell replacement a possible
maintenance issue; however, this service is usually provided by the installer. In addition, the solar panel
should be cleaned to maximize the absorption of the sunlight.

2.7 LIMITATIONS
Using photovoltaic technology has limitations. From the summary efficiency table (Table 1), CulnSe2 has
limited supply and it is very expensive. Other photovoltaic technologies require more solar device
production to drive the cost down. Another limitation is the rooftop area. With a low efficiency
photovoltaic solar system, it requires a larger roof top area to support high watt demand. For this reason,
certain rooftops will limit the amount that the solar panel(s) can be installed, and possibly requires a high
efficiency photovoltaic system, which will drive the total cost of the system higher.

2.8 BENEFIT
The advantages of using photovoltaic solar cells to convert from sunlight energy to electricity are to reduce
the amount of fossil fuel burning for electrical power, to keep the environment clean, minimize air
pollution and curb global warming. Another benefit is that the main energy source is free. Solar panels are
built to last up to twenty-five years (AlliedSun, 2005).

2.9 POLICY
In California, there are cash rebate programs that encourage residential and commercial customers to build
and use solar power. Other benefits include federal tax deductions and loans which will help reduce the
cost of a solar system (California Energy Commission, 2003). Table 2 is an example of some incentives
that were provided in California during 2003.

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Table 2: ESTIMATED NET SYSTEM COST AND MONTHLY PAYMENTS (2kW AC SYSTEM)
(Retrieved from California Energy Commission, 2003, p.3)

Total System Cost $16,235


Rebate 8000
Tax credit $1,235
Net cost / loan amount $7,000
Loan Period 21 years
Interest Rate 8 percent
Annual Payments $660/year
Approximate monthly payment $55/month

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3 LARGE SCALE SOLAR THERMAL POWER PLANTS

3.1 SOLAR AND THERMAL FUNCTIONALITY


Solar thermal power plants are another way to harness the sun’s energy. Instead of using photovoltaic cells,
these plants use concentrated solar power (CSP) to heat up different types of medium which can stored and
used when needed. The energy can be used at night to vaporize water which spins turbines somewhat
similar to those of a nuclear or coal burning plant. There are three CSP technologies that have the most
potential for growth in the future: parabolic trough, parabolic dish, and power tower/ heliostat.

3.2 PARABOLIC TROUGH


The trough style CSP uses a system of long parabolic trough shaped reflectors which focus their reflections
to a receiver tube running lengthwise above it (see Figures 3 and 4). Typically through the receiver tube an
oil is used to transport and store the accumulated thermal energy.

Figure 3: A FIELD OF TROUGH COLLECTORS IN THE MOJAVE DESERT


(Retrieved from Mancini et al., 2005)

Figure 4: SCHEMATIC OF A PARABOLIC TROUGH COLLECTORS


(Retrieved from Soteris, 2005)

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3. PARABOLIC DISH
The parabolic dish style CSP is similar to the trough but involves the use of a dish instead of a trough (see
Figure 5). This arrangement has been used in direct correlation to a “Stirling” style heat engine and is also
known as the “dish-Stirling” system. This method has been used to achieve some of the highest efficiencies
in modular units.

Figure 5: PARABOLIC DISH STYLE CSP


(Retrieved from Mancini et al., 2005)

3.4 POWER TOWER


The power tower style CSP involves an array of reflective mirrors or heliostats arranged to reflect towards
a central “power tower” (see Figure 6). Inside the tower is a heat transport medium, often a material that is
suitable for the high temperatures (up to 1500°C) that occur in this system. Molten nitrate salt is often used
because of its high heat capacity. The greater the difference between the hot and cold temperatures of the
transport medium, the higher the efficiency will be. The system is limited by the constraints of the Carnot
cycle:
TH- TC = Efficiency
TH

The Solar II plant outside Barstow, California has been producing 10-MW of power since 1996. It has a
thermal to electrical efficiency of 16% (Mancini et al, 2005). It has been projected that using the same
technology on a 30-MW plant to have an efficiency of over 20% (Mills, Jan2004).

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Figure 6: POWER TOWER AND ARRAY OF HELIOSTATS OF SOLAR II


(Retrieved from Mancini et al., 2005)

Table 3: COMPARISON OF ALTERNATIVE SOLAR THERMAL POWER SYSTEM TECHNOLOGIES


(Retrieved from Patel, 2006)
Solar Concentration Operating Temperature Thermodynamic
Technology
(x Suns) (Hot Side) Cycle Efficiency
Parabolic trough receiver 100 300–500°C Low
Central receiver power tower 1000 500–1000°C Moderate
Dish receiver with engine 3000 800–1200°C High

3.5 BENEFITS AND LIMITATIONS


The costs associated with CSP are significantly lower than competing technologies. Photovoltaic cells tend
to be more expensive than the equipment associated with CSP. Because one cannot monetize the value of
solar energy, its greatest benefit in comparison to fossil-fuel powered plants is that there is no cost of an
energy source.

One of the benefits of CSP is the ability to store thermal energy to efficiently use later to transport
electricity, whereas photovoltaic technology requires the use of batteries to store the energy harnessed from
the sun. However, because of their size and space requirements, most CSP systems are limited to large
scale projects, with the exception of the parabolic dish. There has been development of modular dish units
that have operated at high levels of efficiency.

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4 ACTIVE SOLAR HEATING

4.1 RESIDENTIAL SOLAR HOT WATER


In addition to using the heat from the sun to create electricity on a large scale, solar energy is also used as a
heat source for domestic use. The energy from the sun is actively harnessed to heat a fluid medium of either
air or a liquid, and that medium is used to transfer the heat to the house to heat living space or domestic hot
water (DHW). Sometimes, the solar heating systems are integrated with photovoltaic systems to provide
both electricity and heat to the house.

4.2 SYSTEM MATERIALS AND DESIGN


The most common use of active residential solar heating is for DHW. When sized correctly, these systems
can provide for a percentage of the total energy needed to heat the residential DHW. Typically, panels that
efficiently absorb heat are placed on the roof of a house, and a fluid—typically water, but propylene-glycol
can be used if freezing temperatures will occur—that flows through the panels transfers heat to a thermal
mass for storage, such as a large hot water storage tank (Pahl, 2003, p. 63). There are a variety of panel
designs, with the most common being flat-plate collectors or evacuated tube collectors. The flat plate
collectors are insulated metal boxes that contain a fluid medium. The panels have a black backing to
increase heat absorption, and a glazing across the face to minimize reflective heat loss. The bodies of the
collectors are usually aluminum, which is lightweight and corrosion-resistant. The tubes within the
collectors are usually made of copper, and the glazing is either glass or plastic (Florida Solar Energy Center
[FSEC], 1992, p. 3-10). Evacuated tube collectors have a fluid passing through an absorber tube, which is
housed within an outer glass tube. A vacuum in between the tubes is created by removing the air from in
between the tubes, enabling greater efficiencies. The evacuated tubes can therefore generate higher
temperatures in the fluids, but are also more expensive due to the precision involved in manufacturing
(Florida Solar Energy Center [FSEC], 1992, p. 3-11).

There are various arrangements that the solar collectors can be plumbed into the system. Direct systems
circulate the actual domestic hot water through the panels and then into the house for use, while indirect
systems use a heat exchanger to transfer heat between the fluid in the collectors and the domestic hot water.
In both systems, the water must be circulated through the system to facilitate convective heat transfer. If the
storage tank can be located above the collectors, then natural convection currents will circulate the cool
water from the tank into the collector, and the hot water out of the collector and into the tank (Pahl, 2003, p.
79). This technique is known as thermosiphoning, and is technically a passive system as no mechanical
pumps are used. However, since it is not usually convenient to put the storage tank above the collector,
most systems employ mechanical pumps to circulate the fluid through the system. The pumps operate with
thermostatically controlled switches to maximize system efficiency (Pahl, 2003, p. 79).

4.3 COSTS AND INCENTIVES


The cost of a typical solar DHW system varies based on the components used. For a 1200 square foot
single-family home, one design and installation company quoted a price of $6,500 for the system that uses
two 4’ x 8’ flat plate collectors, a heat-exchanger, and a storage tank with a 120 gallon capacity (J.
Kaufman, personal communication, April 2, 2007). The system would be expected to provide 100% of the
DHW energy needs in the warmer months and 40% during the cooler months, or about 70% of the total

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energy for DHW. The cost is decreased by incentives offered by the California Energy Commission, with a
tax credit worth up to $2,000.

4. EFFICENCIESAND LIFESPANS
When installed at the proper azimuth and angle of incidence to the sun, the domestic solar thermal systems
can operate at up to 85% efficiency (Pahl, 2003, 85). The life expectancy of the system is approximately 30
years, although there are some installations that have been operating since the early 1970s with no
problems.

4.5 LIMITATIONS
One major limitation to heating water with solar energy is the need for a backup heat source. In most
regions, it is impossible to provide 100% of the heating needs during the winter. The additional cost of a
backup heat source might make a solar thermal system less desirable for some, but the appeal of using
clean renewable energy often outweighs that concern.

4.6 ADDITIONAL APPLICATION: SPACE HEATING


Domestic hot water heating is the second largest use of energy in a typical home; the largest use is for
space heating (Pahl, 2003, p. 15). One application of solar heating to space heating is with radiant or
hydronic heating. While flat-plate and evacuated tube collectors can be used to provide supplemental heat
for radiant heating systems, they are not very cost-effective. The radiant system is usually only operated in
the colder months, but the energy collected by solar collector peaks in the warmer months. Figure 7
illustrates this dilemma by comparing the average heating loads for hot water and space heating to the
average energy collected by either two or six flat-plate collectors over a period of one year (J. Kaufman,
personal communication, April 2, 2007).

Figure 7: COMPARISON OF THE AVERAGE DIFFERENT HEATING LOADS FOR ENTIRE YEAR
(Retrieved from Personal Communication 2007)

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Incorporating active solar energy to heat living space is more effectively accomplished by heating air and
pumping that hot air either directly into the house or through a heat-exchanger. Air can replace the liquid in
flat-plate solar collectors, and either be pumped directly into the living space or through a heat-exchanger
to supplement a traditional forced-air heating system. Air pumped directly into the house results in higher
energy gain, but requires additional filtering to make the quality high enough. With a heat exchanger, the
efficiency drops in accordance with the heat exchanger efficiency, but the system can be easily integrated
with existing forced-air systems, eliminating the need for additional filtering requirements.

Additional Applications: Photovoltaic/Thermal Combinations


One innovative idea is to capture the wasted heat associated with a photovoltaic system and use it for water
and space heating. Kineo Design, a mechanical engineering firm in San Francisco, has developed a design
to generate both electricity and heat. PVT systems include photovoltaic modules mounted to restrict the air
flow in the space between the panels and the roof. The modules generate electricity, as they would without
the PVT installation, but they also generate heat. The PVT system removes the heat generated by the
modules and captures it for heating, which can be used for hot water and space heating (J. Plaisted,
Personal Communication, 2007). Figure 8 shows a diagram of a PVT system.

Figure 8: PVT SYSTEM DIAGRAM


(Retrieved from Kineo Design, 2007)

PVT systems use the same components as a standard photovoltaic system, with the addition of mechanical
pumps and piping to circulate the air. One of the limitations of a PVT system is the location. Standard
photovoltaic systems can be installed remotely, or on textured roof surfaces such as tile or shake. PVT
systems can only be installed on the roof of a house, with a low-profile roof covering material, such as
asphalt shingles.

According to Kineo Design, a PVT system installed in San Francisco will produce 84% more total energy
than a stand-alone photovoltaic system if used to heat hot water only, and 107% more energy if used for hot
water and space heating (J. Plaisted, Personal Communication, 2007). PVT systems cost 25% more than
standard photovoltaic systems, but due to the increased energy output, the payback period is reduced and
the financial returns are increased. Financial incentives for a PVT system are the same as those for a
standard photovoltaic system, with state rebates and federal tax credits available.

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5 PASSIVE SOLAR

5.1 PASSIVE DESIGN

Passive solar design is an aggressive approach to creating a comfortable energy efficient building with little
or no maintenance over the life of that structure. The passive design uses the natural elements available to
supply the daily needs of comfort, light, and temperature control. The ultimate goal of passive design is to
eliminate all costs and greenhouse gas emissions that one incurs with temperature and lighting controls of
ones building. This is an approach that numerous civilizations have used over the course of time. Today,
this provides an excellent and proven way to curb the growing environmental problems that people are
facing.

5.2 PASSIVE SOLAR FUNCTIONALITY

The way passive solar design works is that there are three separate energy gains associated with the design.
First, the direct gain is the solar radiation that penetrates the windows and doors directly. This energy is
stored inside the living space. Second, the indirect gain collects, stores, and distributes the sun’s energy
using the thermal mass system. The energy can be transferred indoors by means of conduction, convection
or radiation. The third way the passive design works is by isolated gains which come from separate solar
energy collection sites such as sunrooms. The sunroom collects the solar radiation and is either opened to
the home allowing its energy to flow into the home, or closed blocking the warmer air.

5.3 APPLICATION
Building a passive solar designed structure in the United States requires one to be aware of the sun’s yearly
cycle. The south side to a structure should be orientated no more than 30 degrees of due south (see Figure
9). Absolute southern exposure is ideal and should be clear of tall trees or other obstacles that would block
the sun. This orientation will provide more of the suns rays to enter in the winter and exclude those rays in
the warmer summer months.

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Figure 9: THE SUN’S SEASONAL POSITION IN RESPECT TO THE BUILDING LAYOUT


(Retrieved from United States Department of Energy, 2000)

Harnessing the natural light available will reduce the use of electricity to power lights during the day thus
lowering one’s electrical bill. Figure 10 illustrates how in the winter months the suns rays will penetrate
the windows and doors allowing for natural light and heat. In the warmer summer months, that light will
be blocked by the overhang from the roof design keeping out the sun’s energy creating a cooler
environment.

Figure 10: THE SUN’S SEASONAL RAYS EITHER ENTERING OR BEING BLOCKED BY THE
ARCHITECTURE OF THE BUILDING
(Retrieved from North East Sustainable Energy Association, 2000)

Lighting is not the only design feature utilized; one can predict and engineer air flow throughout the
building. This is done by first understanding the fact that warm air rises. Figure 11 illustrates how thermal
chimneys are used to expel warmer air while taking in cooler air from the cooler side of the building during
the summer months. The mechanics of passive design are not complicated; a window with the capability of

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opening and closing provides all that is needed to operate the thermal chimney. The cooler air supplied by
opening the windows on the cooler side of the building will force the warm air inside the building up and
out through the thermal chimney. Thermal chimneys can also add to pleasing aesthetics regarding exterior
architecture.

Figure 11: THE MECHANICS OF CONTROLLED AIR FLOW USING PASSIVE SOLAR DESIGN AND A
THERMAL CHIMMEY
(Retrieved from Christensen, 2007)

The windows used in the design and build aspect of the project should be adequately researched. The
glazing and size of windows used depends heavily on the climate associated with building location. In cold
climates, a larger amount of southern exposed windows is ideal to capture the suns energy while limiting
the windows on the other three sides of the home. In warmer climates where cooling the home is the focus,
shading southern windows with trees and overhangs will curb the suns heat while implementing more
northern faced windows.

5.4 MATERIALS
The materials one uses to build a structure can provide heating and cooling assistance once completed.
Thermal mass are materials used to store heat, they include items like concrete, masonry (brick), and water.
These materials will absorb the sun’s energy during their daytime exposure and then slowly release that
stored energy when the temperature begins to drop indoors. The darker the color of the thermal mass used
will result in a more energy being absorbed.

Windows come in a variety of styles and classifications. One important grouping is the U-rating, which is
the rate of heat loss associated with each window assembly. The solar heat gain coefficient is used to
measure the amount of incident sunlight admitted through the window and the VT is a gauge used to
measure the amount of visible light transferred through the window. Incorporating proper window
selection and installation will ensure a highly efficient structure by capturing the desired energy while at
the same time expelling what is unwanted.

Flooring styles inside the home should be taken into careful consideration because they do play a large role
in the thermal mass system. The floors of a building store heat during the day, and when the interior
temperature of the building begin to drop, that energy is released and begins to rise stabilizing the
comfortable environment. Flooring materials that work well are dark to medium dark colored concrete and

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other stone as well as wood. Carpet should be avoided because it does not store the sun’s energy
efficiently.

5. COST / EFFICIENCY / LIFE SPAN


The best part of building a passive solar designed home is that costs and limitations should be no more than
that of not building a passive solar home. The main elements of the design are to research, understand, and
then incorporate the natural surroundings. The next step is to build a well crafted home free of unsealed
windows and other voids. This will help to ensure a more energy efficient building. Having created an
energy efficient building in sync with nature, the size and costs of heating and ventilation units will be
significantly smaller and last for the lifetime of the building.

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6 CONCLUSION
Solar design has climbed the charts to become a very popular style for living today. This popularity is a
wonderful way to convey the environmental problems and their solutions to the whole world. Photovoltaic
technology has made incredible advances in its efficiency, cost, and materials usage. Researchers are
successfully pushing the limits in methods for harnessing the sun’s energy. Large scale projects such as the
power tower and the parabolic trough as well as smaller residential methods are proof that solar power is
the way of the future.

Harnessing the energy from the sun will provide the planet and future generations the ability to maintain a
sustainable style of life. These methods will continue to cut greenhouse gas emissions as well as other
toxic pollutants associated with coal, nuclear, and petroleum based power plants. The research and
development will continue to grow as will the education and information made available to the people of
the world. This knowledge will be a catalyst for policy changes across the map that will help to benefit the
planet and mankind for generations to come. This solar movement is growing and here to stay, just in time
to alleviate the planet from what history has done to it.

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7 REFERENCES
(2000). United States Department of Energy. Retrieved April 12, 2007, from Passive Solar Design Web
site: http://www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/documents/pdfs/29236.pdf

(2006). National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Retrieved April 10, 2007, Web site: http://www.nrel.gov

(Alivisatos, 2003). Nanocrystal Solar Cells: New Shapes and Opportunities, Tetrapods for higher efficiency solar
cells and license announcement. Retrieved April 9, 2007, from Berkeley Lab Research Highlight, Materials
Sciences Division Web site: http://www.lbl.gov/msd/PIs/Alivisatos/03/03_9_tetrapods.pdf

(AlliedSun, 2005). How Solar Works, Why Photovoltaics?. Retrieved April 17, 2007, from AlliedSun Technologies -
Providing the best solar energy solutions available Web site: http://www.alliedsun.com/how.htm

(California Energy Commission, 2003, March). Buying a PHOTOVOLTAIC SOLAR ELECTRIC SYSTEM A
Consumer Guide, 2003 Ed.. Retrieved April 8, 2007, from California Energy Commission, Renewable Energy
Progrram Web site: http://www.energy.ca.gov/reports/2003-03-11_500-03-014F.PDF

(Gratzel 2001). Photoelectrichemical Cells. Macmillan Magazines Ltd, 414, 338

(EERE, 2005, Dec. 23). Solar Cell Materials. Retrieved April 17, 2007, from US. Department of Energy, Energy
Efficiency and Rewewable Energy Web site: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/solar_cell_materials.html

(EERE, 2005, Dec. 23). Solar Energy Technologies Program. Retrieved April 17, 2007, from U.S. Department of
Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Web site: http://www1.eere.gov/solar_cell_structures.html

(EERE, 2006, Jan. 05). Solar Energy Technologies Program, The Photoelectric Effect. Retrieved April 8, 2007,
from U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficency and Renewable Energy Web site:
http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/photoelectric_effect.html

(Solarbuzz, 2007). Solar Energy Industry Electricity Prices. Retrieved April 17, 2007, from Solarbuzz, Solar
Electricity Prices Web site: http://www.solarbuzz.com/SolarPrice.htm

Christensen, B (2007). A source book for green and sustainable building. Retrieved April 8, 2007, from
Passive Solar Design Web site: http://www.greenbuilder.com/sourcebook/PassiveSol.html

Florida Solar Energy Center. (1992). Solar Water and Pool Heating: Design and Installation Manual. Cape
Canaveral: State of Florida.

Kalogirou, S. A., (2004), Solar Thermal Collectors and Applications, Progress in Energy and Combustion
Science, Volume 30, Issue 3, Pages 231-295, Retrieved April 7, 2007 from Academic Search Premier
data base

Mancini, T. R., Messenger, R., and Ventre, J., (2005), The Engineering Handbook; Chapter 67.1; Solar
Thermal Electric Systems, University of California Davis, Davis, USA

Mills, D., (Jan2004). Advances in solar thermal electricity technology, Solar Energy, Vol. 76 Issue 1-3, p19, 13p;

North East Sustainable Energy Association, (2000). Solar Energy for Homes. Retrieved April , 2007, from
North East Sustainable Energy Association Web site: http://www.nesea.org/

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REFERENCES (continued)

Pahl, G. (2003). Natural Home Heating: The Complete Guide to Renewable Energy Options. White River Junction:
Chelsea Green Publishing Company.

Romero et al., (1999). Distributed power from solar tower systems: a MIUS approach. In: (1999), pp. 286–295.

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8 APPENDIX
Contacts (Retrieved from California Energy Commission, 2003, p.17)

California Energy Commission


Call Center
(800) 555-7794 (toll free)
(916) 654-4058 (outside California)
Fax: (916) 653-2543
www.consumerenergycenter.org
renewable@energy.state.ca.us

California Public Utilities Commission


San Francisco Office (Headquarters)
(415) 703-2782
Utility complaints: (800) 649-7570
www.cpuc.ca.gov

California Solar Energy Industries Association (CalSEIA)


(949) 709-8043
www.calseia.org

Northern California Solar Energy Association (NCSEA)


(510) 869-2759
www.norcalsolar.org
info@norcalsolar.org

Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E)


(415) 973-7000
(800) 743-5000 toll free
www.pge.com

San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E)


(800) 411-7343
www.sdge.com

San Diego Regional Energy Office


866-SDENERGY (733-6374) toll free
www.sdenergy.org

Southern California Edison Company (SCE)


(800) 655-4555
www.sce.com

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