Types of installations
Hybrid solar panel + an aerothermal system
All solar installations for the production of Domestic Hot Water (DHW) need an auxiliary system (boiler, aerothermy, etc.) to heat the water to its consumption temperature, especially on less sunny days. These auxiliary systems must be as efficient as possible so that they consume the least energy from the outside.
On cloudy days we only have diffuse irradiation, which is approximately between 15 and 20% of the global irradiation. Therefore, the production of the solar installation will be proportional to the available irradiation.
Aerothermal systems are support systems that are highly efficient since they only consume around 33% of the energy they provide in electricity. These aerothermal systems are perfectly combined with the hybrid solar panels since on the one hand, these save part of their demand thanks to the contribution of heat, and on the other, from the electricity they consume from the network, approximately half can be self-consumed from the photovoltaic production.
As an example, in a house, to cover the total DHW demand, 50% is saved with the hot water produced by the panels and the other 50%, part is self-consumed from the photovoltaic generation itself (25%) and the other 25% is consumed from the network. Since aerothermal energy usually has a COP of 3, the network consumption will be only 8% of the DHW consumed.
Hybrid solar panel + a geothermal system
Geothermal energy is another auxiliary installation tool that presents a high efficiency to heat Domestic Hot Water (DHW). This system finishes heating the water from the temperature achieved by the panels to the consumption temperature. Of all the technologies based on the heat pump, geothermal energy is one of the most efficient. Thanks to this, the electricity consumed by this system is lower and, as a consequence, also its CO2 emissions are lower.
The high efficiency (high COP) of geothermal energy is due to the fact that the temperature of its cold focus (the soil) is stable and in the winter months it remains warmer than the environment. The colder the climate, the more advantage is obtained from geothermal energy compared to aerothermal systems. The opposite occurs in temperate and warm climates.
Combining geothermal energy with hybrid solar panels drastically reduces the energy consumption of a building. As an example, to cover the demand of DHW, the panels cover with their thermal production around 50%, and the geothermal system covers the rest. To contribute the rest, the geothermal system self-consumes part of the photovoltaic production and the rest comes from the network (around 4% of the total demand).
Hybrid solar panel + biomass
Currently, one of the auxiliary systems with less environmental impact are biomass systems. In recent years, they have had an important development due to their implantation in buildings. These auxiliary systems should be as efficient as possible or emit the minimum amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) as CO2.
Therefore, although biomass emits CO2, it is considered neutral, because it would do it the same way in its natural degradation.
Hybrid solar panels combine very well with biomass. On the one hand, collectors contribute around 50% of the Domestic Hot Water demand and, on the other hand, biomass only consumes fuel. Meaning, it does not consume electricity, so all the generated photovoltaic energy can be used in the building.
Hybrid solar panesl + DHW and swimming pool
Solar hybrid collectors are very suitable to be used in buildings with a swimming pool. During the summer, when there is more irradiation, and consequently the panels generate more energy (photovoltaic and thermal), besides producing DHW (Domestic Hot Water), also warms the swimming pool.
Using panels with swimming pools entails that the hydraulic circuit works at lower temperatures, getting a higher efficiency both photovoltaic and thermal.
In Spain, outdoor swimming pools cannot be warmed by an auxiliary heater that does not work with renewable energy. Indoor swimming pools have to be warmed at least a 50% with renewable energy like solar hybrid panels. However, each country has a different legislation about it.
Hybrid solar panel + DHW, heating and swimming pool
Solar installations placed on buildings usually cover just DHW, as heating is just consumed during the winter and not during the summer. Therefore, solar energy is not usually used for heating, because it could only contribute for a few months and they are the ones with less irradiation.
f you want to carry out a solar installation to contribute to the heating, you must foresee what the excess heat will be used for in the summer. There are different options to use this energy such as swimming pools.
Adding solar energy to the pool allows you to take advantage of the excess energy in summer, lengthen the bathing seasons, and make larger installations, achieving very important energy savings.
Additionally, combining hybrid panels with swimming pools allows working in a low temperature range, increasing the thermal and photovoltaic performance of the panels, resulting in greater savings.
Hybrid solar panel + Adsorption (Solar Trigeneration)
Solar cooling involves using the excess heat from the thermal collectors to activate an adsorption (or absorption) machine to produce cold. When these machines are combined with hybrid panels, solar Trigeneration is obtained since electricity, heat and cold are produced.
Buildings demand 40% of energy in Spain. Of the total thermal demand of a building, on average, 20% is due to DHW and 80% to heating. Covering 50% of the DHW with thermal collectors, we only cover 10% of the demand for a building, so solutions that allow greater savings are needed. These solutions have to solve the problem of the excess temperature that thermal solar installations have in the summer.
Solar Trigeneration allows larger installations to be carried out in buildings, increasing solar coverage from an average 10% of DHW regarding the total demand of the building (up to 80-90%). During the summer, heat is used to activate an adsorption machine to cool the building. Therefore, this system is optimal in those buildings where it is intended to achieve large solar coverage. These systems have only been installed in exceptional cases due to their high cost.
Hybrid solar panel + Seasonal Storage
The great limitation of thermal installations arises as a consequence of the fact that the months with the highest solar production (summer), is the time of year with the lowest thermal demand (DHW). This implies that solar thermal installations only cover around 10-20% of the total thermal demand of the building.
A reliable solution and used in northern European countries is seasonal thermal storage. It consists on storing the excess of heat of the warmer/sunnier months of the year to use it during the winter. It is remarkable that out of 100% of the solar energy stored, just around 10% is lost. Meaning that up to 90% of the energy stored can be used during the winter. The seasonal temperature variations in the storage tank are between 20ºC to 50ºC during the year. That thermal energy is transferred to the building through a heat pump. The higher temperature in the seasonal storage tank, the higher COP (Coefficient of performance) will be obtained. Also, a part of the total electricity consumed by the heat pump is supplied by the hybrid panels reducing the grid energy dependence.
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