Solar Thermal Energy

Abby Ferree, Grace Adler, Jonah Grix, and Chanse Smith

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Process Of Solar Thermal Energy.....

The Sun's rays are used to warm up liquids temperatures which are the circulated through pipes. This transfers its heat to water and also produces steam. Turbines take steam and convert it into mechanical energy which powers generators to produce electricity.

Pros and Cons of Solar Thermal Energy....

Pros- Can reduce the combustion of fossil fuels, very low emissions of air pollutants, can decrease electricity bills, could make electric heating systems completely obsolete, hot water heaters will work in any climate and the fuel is always free, and for those without pumps very little maintenance is needed.

Cons: ~toxic chemicals are used to clean the surface of semi-conductors

~silicon dust is produced which is harmful if inhaled

~turbines/solar panels take up a lot of space therefore, it limits the use of land

~the limited use of land destroys wildlife habitats and degrades soil quality

~uses a lot of water (600 gallons of water are used to generate 1 megawatt of electricity)

~manufacture of solar power plants results in the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants

Development of Solar Thermal Energy

There were 9 solar plants to be built by the United States in California between 1984 and 1991. These were the first plants to be built. Currently, the power from the plants are used in 500,000 California homes. Solar thermal energy can be used for heating swimming pools, heating water, and heating buildings. Three types of solar thermal energy systems are in current use which include the solar dish, solar power towers, and parabolic troughs. Also, different types of ways of using solar thermal energy are still being developed today. Australia is trying to develop a solar trough and China is collaborating with the United States to develop solar thermal technology.

Cost of Solar Thermal Energy

The average monthly bill for a family to use solar thermal energy for electricity is $75 for 730 kWh, (kilowatt hours). This price ranges from $0.07 per kWh to $.24 per kWh in which the cost depends on what state you live in. To install a solar panel at your house ranges from $7 to $9 per watt. An example would be if you tried to install a solar panel that was 5 kWh then it would cost around $25,000 to $35,000. The government has created a lot of projects using solar thermal energy but an example of one of theirs is the Nevada Solar One which is a solar plant. It was built in mid-2007 and costed $250 million. Currently, the United States Department of Energy is loaning Bright Source Energy $1.37 billion to make a solar power complex.