With the advancement of technology and increasing population in recent decades, our energy dependence has also increased. Energy sources like oil and natural gas are central to our way of life. Your car can’t run without the petrol you fill it up with every few days you can’t heat your house without gas or coal. However, these energy sources have many disadvantages that are becoming more apparent because of their excessive uses. This is why you may have seen many other energy alternatives being talked about.
One of these alternatives is using a solar thermal system that can help provide solar thermal energy. These systems generate electricity using concentrated sunlight that is used to heat water. This heated water is turned to steam which is used to turn turbines that produce the needed electricity. But is this system better than the one we currently have? You could check efficiency. This article will discuss precisely that by considering the various pros and cons of this system.
5 Pros of a Solar Thermal System
Most of the fossil fuels we use in our daily life, as fuel and gas, come from non-renewable sources. This means that at some point, they will end up finishing. The great thing about solar thermal energy is that it comes from a renewable source: the sun. In a sense, the sunlight we get is unlimited because it never permanently finishes during the day. Solar thermal energy will always be available to us as long as the system exists.
- Friendly on Environment
Solar thermal energy depends on sunlight and steam, which has a zero-carbon footprint. This means no greenhouse gases are produced that will destroy the ozone layer and contribute to global warming. When burned, most fossil fuels produce greenhouse gases responsible for the climate crisis we are going through today.
- Low Maintenance
Unlike other energy harvesting stems, solar thermal systems do not require much maintenance after installation. These systems consist of simpler electric generating technology that requires a smaller crew to maintain it. Hence, the costs associated with maintenance will be a lot cheaper.
- 24/7 Operation
Unlike wind energy stations and solar panels, this system can work around the clock. This may seem confusing as these systems work on sunlight which is only available during the day. However, the heat radiation from the sunlight is stored in molten salt tanks that are insulated, ensuring a consistent energy source. You can even check this through a power analyzer.
Solar thermal systems are pretty cost-efficient in the long term. This is because they consist of photovoltaic cells that are pretty primitive and hence, have been designed to last for decades. They are cheap when it comes to operation. This can help provide cheap energy in the long term when combined with the cheap maintenance we mentioned before.
5 Cons of a Solar Thermal System
- Expensive Installation
While the energy provided by this system can be cheap, the initial installation of the system and equipment can be pretty expensive. This includes installing energy storage systems and integrating heat exchange systems. Therefore, these systems require a hefty investment at the start.
- A Lot of Water Needed
Solar thermal systems require a large volume to operate to produce large-scale energy. This makes it difficult to operate them in certain places where water is scarce, such as deserts. Therefore, you end up being restricted in the number of places you can set them up.
- A Lot of Space Required
Solar thermal systems require a large amount of space to get the maximum amount of radiation possible. This makes it hard to build them in commercial or residential areas as it can be pretty expensive to buy land. However, if you build them away from these areas, you require many transmission lines, making this more expensive.
- Negative Effects on Ecology
While solar thermal systems bring a lot of advantages to the environment, they can help affect certain ecological factors. This is due to the mirrors that can intensely reflect and damage the natural environment. In addition, this can also affect any overhead flying animals, which can cause them to die. In the long term, this can lead to species extinction.
- Dependent on Long-Term Weather Conditions
Although solar thermal systems can operate round the clock, their efficiency can be relatively less at night. Additionally, if there are days when it is especially rainy or cloudy, their efficiency will further decrease. This is because these stations are dependent on radiation from the sun.
To sum up using a Solar Thermal System
Solar thermal systems are a viable energy generation alternative as it offers various advantages over traditional fossil fuels. However, they also have cons that make them challenging to implement. We have discussed the pros and cons and leave it to you to decide whether you think they are better than the current systems.