Solar Energy Virgin Islands Energy Office (2011)

Every day the sun radiates an enormous amount of energy.  The sun radiates more energy in one second than people have used since the beginning of time.  Solar Thermal power is heat energy obtained by exposing a collecting device to the rays of the sun.  A solar thermal system makes use of the warmth absorbed by the collector to heat water or another working fluid, or to make steam.  Hot water is used in homes or commercial buildings and for industrial processes. 

Steam is used for process heat or for operating a turbine generator to produce electricity or industrial power.  There are several basic kinds of solar thermal power systems including; flat plate solar water heaters, central tower receivers, and parabolic dishes or troughs.  Use of solar thermal power to heat water or generate electricity will help reduce a territory’s complete dependence on fossil fuels.  Solar thermal systems only work with sunshine and do not operate at night or in inclement weather. 

Storage of hot water for domestic or commercial use is simple, using insulated tanks, but storage of fluids at the higher temperatures needed for electrical generation, or storage of electricity itself, needs further technical development.

Author: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Date: 2011

Pages: 16

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