Sep 09, 2021

Green light for solar collectors

Solar collectors are an underexposed option as a green replacement for natural gas. In Breda, TransitionHERO is developing a plan to supply heat to a business park using solar collectors.  

For green electricity, we use wind, hydropower and of course, the sun. For the greening of heat, some known options are hydrogen, a heat network and heat pumps. The sun is still often overlooked, while solar collectors can, already now, be a profitable alternative to natural gas heating.   

How a solar collector works  

Solar collectors are placed on the roof, just like a solar panel. There, the energy is not converted into electricity, like with a solar panel, but into heat. The collectors are connected to a system of pipes, through which a special type of antifreeze liquid is running. Collectors heat this up to a maximum of 90 degrees. The liquid runs to a boiler with tap water that is heated with a heat exchanger.  

Storage problems off the table  

Solar collectors have enormous potential. They are super-efficient: four times less energy is lost in energy conversion than solar panels. The problem with solar collectors for a long time was the lack of storage capacity, which meant that the surplus of summer heat could not be used in the cold winter months. The solution was found in large, underground water basins. In these, heat can be stored for a longer period and harvested again when needed, and in this way large-scale use of solar collectors has become profitable for industry. And even in the Netherlands the sun can provide sufficient sustainable heat.  

Pilot with basins in Breda  

TransitionHERO is currently working out a business case for the municipality of Breda to heat an industrial estate with solar collectors. For this purpose, water basins of 20 x 20 meters and 6 meters deep are to be used. The project is in the pilot phase with 5-10 companies participating. The plan is to eventually heat all 280 companies on the site with the sun all year round.   

Curious about these and other possibilities in the field of natural gas-free living and working? Then feel free to contact us.