Difference between Solar Thermal Energy and Solar Photovoltaic PV Energy

With the growing world and developing technology, the demand for solars is also increasing because of the heavy electricity demand. There are two types of technology used for generating electricity from solar power – photovoltaic energy and solar thermal energy. These two technologies exploit the sun as an energy source but are different in terms of their manageability and their adaptation to the demand of electricity.

As the population is rapidly increasing, the demand for everyone’s electricity has increased because the more people, the more electricity will be used. Generating electricity is highly costly because electricity is generated by burning fossils which are non-renewable and limited. General electricity in this way causes a lot of harm to our environment and our earth.

Solar Energy is the best way to use nature in the form of electricity and heat, as it is highly recommended by the government, and it is a safe, eco-friendly, one-time investment with lifetime benefits, and it doesn’t harm our environment. Let us know in detail about Solar Energy.

What is Solar Energy?

Solar Energy in the form of generating free energy from nature’s source. It can be used in several ways, as it is a renewable energy source and an important part of our clean energy future. There are two types of direct solar energy being used. Solar thermal energy is also known as solar hot water energy and solar photovoltaic energy (PV). In both these methods the sun plays a very important role because they collected sun rays that reach the atmosphere and converted them into energy.

Solar Thermal Energy

Solar thermal energy is the way to produce thermal energy from the sun’s power to obtain thermal energy. The thermal energy is used to generate steam, now used to operate a conventional turbine that produces electricity. The faster the turbine runs, the more electricity will be generated. Solar thermal energy generates electricity on a demand means the production of energy to the demand at any given time.

It works on the principle of a fluid circulates in a tube. Similarly, in solar thermal energy, the solar panels absorb the sun’s rays and heat them. The evacuated tubes hold the water that is used to circulate the turbine. Now the heat that is generated through the sunlight is transferred into the evacuated tubes which heat the water with the use of pumps, These are called active systems. The method used in circulating water is known as the thermosyphon method, it is a natural method based on convection.

As the water heats in tubes it will push the cooler water. Solar thermal power plants are used in residential homes and offices to produce heat and hot water that is used for home heating by means of radiant floor, wall, ceiling, and roof piping in radiant panels.

Equipment used for Installation: Solar collector, Tank, Controller, Boiler, Pump, Cold Water feed, etc.

Solar Photovoltaic Energy

Solar photovoltaic energy is the easiest way to generate electricity with a few types of equipment. It is based on the photovoltaic effect. The sun rays reach to the panel which is made up of silicon through which a photon (elementary particle of light) bombards and releases electrons, because when the photon and semiconductors (Silicon Panel) intersect each other they produce electrons. The electron generates electricity through exposure to light.

When the semiconductor material comes in contact with the light it eventually generates electricity that can be stored in a battery for future use this is called Photovoltaic effect and the process is known as Solar Photovoltaic Energy System.

The system only works when the sun is shining, that’s why the position of the panels are set according to the sunlight, but it can work with the medium sunlight also and produces enough energy. A solar photovoltaic system is the most popular system among the world as it is eco friendly and budget manageable. It can be used in homes, offices, residential areas and now in villages also. One Photovoltaic panel is enough to produce electricity to light the lamp for the whole night and even more.

Equipment used for Installation: PV Array, DC side isolation switch, AC side isolation switch, Inverter, PV Generation meter, Main Fuse Box, Meter, etc.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Photovoltaic Energy and Solar Thermal Energy

Solar Thermal energy

As observed, these two are different types of solar energy generating systems that generate energy for different purposes. Here are some pros and cons of Solar Photovoltaic Energy System and Solar Thermal Energy System.

●  Efficiency

1.     Solar Photovoltaic Energy: Solar photovoltaic system is efficient and it’s efficiency rate is 20%. It is installed on a wide range if it can be used for a wide purpose. It has various benefits and energy or electricity can be used for a multitude of applications in homes, offices or anywhere. It can be also used as heating appliances and charging a car.

1.     Solar Thermal Energy: Solar thermal system is more efficient than the solar photovoltaic system because it’s efficiency rate is around 70%. It will require less roof space to install. But it is only used to boil water and for heating purposes. It can not produce electricity for homes.

●  Onsite usage

1.     Solar Photovoltaic Energy: The Solar Photovoltaic System is made in a different way that does not waste energy. The energy generated by the PV can be used at the same time and the remaining energy  sent to the grid to be used in future. The energy can be stored in batteries which can be used as per requirements at any time.

2.     Solar Thermal Energy: In Solar Thermal Energy System, the energy is stored in the hot water tank in the form of hot water, but as long as the water tank is hot. If too much energy is produced then the hot water is often wasted and hot water needs to be removed from the tank.

●  Cost

1.     Solar Photovoltaic Energy: Solar Photovoltaic cells were expensive when new inventions took place. But as the population rapidly increases the demand for solar photovoltaic systems also increases, and that is the reason for the decrease in the cost of panels. To produce your own electrical energy works out significantly more cost-efficiently than anything. It’s cost depends on the size of the plate it’s average cost may be around $5,500 and $8,000 with installation.

1.     Solar Thermal Energy: In the earlier decade the cost of the solar thermal energy system was much cheaper but as the technology developed and the system was also developed, now the cost of the solar thermal energy system is much like the solar photovoltaic system but it is not more cost-effective than PVs. The average price is around $7000-$10000.

●  Maintenance

1.     Solar Photovoltaic Energy: Solar Photovoltaic Energy is the most popular solar energy all over the world. It required low maintenance as they recommend check and clean panels every couple of years to make sure they’re performing well at their optimum condition and temperature.

2.     Solar Thermal Energy: Solar Thermal Energy System requires more maintenance than PV, as the hot water is always on the tank and all the moving parts and glycol liquid in the panels, so there is a risk of leakage of water from any part of the system which can lead to dangerous accidents also. So, to avoid issues, solar thermal needs to be checked every month and can cost upwards of £200 in a year.

●  Lifespan

1.     Solar Photovoltaic Energy: You can get an idea of lifespan from maintenance. As solar photovoltaic energy systems require less maintenance as compared to solar thermal, so it has more lifespan. Its lifespan is around 40 years with proper maintenance.

2.     Solar Thermal Energy: It required more maintenance because of boiling water in the tank. Its lifespan is also less than the solar photovoltaic system. The lifespan is around 20 years if the system works properly and gets proper maintenance.

●  Shape and sizes

1.     Solar Photovoltaic Energy: If viewed according to size, then solar photovoltaic panels come in every shape and sizes. It can be installed in 10m2 of roof space. A Solar Photovoltaic System mainly takes up space for the solar panels at homes and hardly any space on the interior portion because it is installed on the roofs. PV System would merely add some cables and a transformer indoors, which doesn’t require much space.

2.     Solar Thermal Energy: Solar Thermal Energy used 3m2-4m2 of a space. Yes, the Solar Thermal System takes up some interior space if you were to use it to heat water, because water can be stored in a tank and that tank is quite big to store enough hot water.

Advantages of Solar Photovoltaic PV Energy System and Solar Thermal Energy Systems Together

Solar Thermal energy and Solar Photovoltaic energy.

Let’s take an example of a house, As many households want their solar panels to produce them with hot water and electricity both, and seeing as solar thermal systems are dedicated to doing this, many of us are installing both kinds of solar panels.

The best example of the Energy Savings, one homeowner should install solar PV panels to get electricity and solar thermal panels for hot water, allowing them to form the most of the efficiency of solar thermal for their hot water needs while utilizing the solar PV for other uses and allowing the chance of selling any excess electricity, especially the case during the summer back to the grid.

New hybrid panels technologies are more popular which use both solar PV and solar thermal within the same unit will see these hybrid systems become more common in households. Both Solar energy has their own benefit, and in terms of efficiency, householders should install both the systems for their better life experience and more savings.

Which Solar Energy System/ Solarpower Plants are the Best?

Both solar thermal energy systems and solar photovoltaic PV energy system technology are great forms of green energy and can provide you with a fantastic environmentally friendly energy solution for your daily living.

Making a choice between two of them is quite difficult because both of them are adept at their work. One is used to produce electricity and another one is used to produce hot water. Solar photovoltaic energy systems are the new technology to generate eco-friendly electricity that can be used in homes, offices and many more things. It’s the best solution for electricity needs, whereas solar thermal energy systems are used to produce a large amount of hot water to fulfill hot water requirements for a property or a person, especially in winter months.

A better investment would be according to the requirements, if you want to decrease your electricity bills then you must go on solar photovoltaic PV energy system but if you want hot war for your homes than go for the solar thermal energy system. If you want both then you can install both of them for more savings.

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