Evaluation project in Brazil: The Grupo de Estudos em Energia (GREEN) at Pontificia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais, also called the Brazilian Center for the Development of Thermo-Solar Energy, checks the quality of components and installed systems. Foto: GREEN
The first results from a large scale evaluation of solar thermal installations in Brazil made the necessity for quality and training programmes apparent. According to the speech of Emerson Salvador of the utility Eletrobrás at the Eurosun 2008 conference, the solar systems inspection had revealed the presence of oxidation and leakages, painting and insulation deterioration in collectors as well as broken or damaged glasses. Another problem addresses the bad condition of systems accessibility. Thirty percent of large systems showed risky access, compared to an even higher number of 46 % for small systems. A general absence of monitoring and consumption control of hot water and gas or electric energy had been detected, too. This was the case with 90 % of small systems and 71 % of large ones.
In 1997, Brazil had created a quality certification programme for solar collectors and thermal storage tanks, in which 85 companies participated. The energy production of a solar system, however, depends not only on a component’s quality, but also on proper design and installation. The study's results show that there is still a great need for training.
The evaluation has been created as part of the National Electricity Conservation Programme PROCEL. That makes sense, considering that more than 70 % of Brazilian households produce domestic heat by using electric heating devices that cause high peaks in electricity demand. Seven Brazilian cities were chosen for the study. The report’s first experiences originate from the evaluation of 274 installations in Belo Horizonte, Campinas and Rio de Janeiro with 8,777 m2. The total area of solar collectors installed in Brazil equals 2.5 GW (3.6 million m²).
Conference contribution is available for download: Evaluating Brazilian's Solar Water Heating Systems
More information: www.pucminas.br/home/principal.php
The text was written by Joachim Berner, a Munich-based journalist and solar thermal expert.