Solar collectors that capture heat even in the shade
During the last edition of the Energy Trade show GENERA in Madrid, visitors wondered how the solar panels from the company Solar PST, from Galicia, managed to heat water to up to 122 °F degrees, considering they were located in an indoor facility.
“These thermodynamic panels absorb heat not only from solar radiation but from the surrounding air temperature as well” explained Pablo Fernández, the company CEO.
Solar PST and its Portuguese partner Energie recently inaugurated Europe’s largest thermodynamic solar thermal collector manufacturing plant in the Portuguese village of Povoa de Varzím. Solar PST owns 35% of Energie, though the companies operate independently to some extent.
The factory sits on an area of almost 32,300 square feet, and provides equipment to Europe and America. The company is already planning to double its output in a matter of two years.
Based in the thermodynamic principles laid down by the XIXth century French physicist Nicolas Carnot, the technology behind these solar collectors is used for heating water for sanitary use, pools and central heating. It consists of a cooling fluid that gasifies when circulating in the solar panel, capturing heat from sunlight and the surrounding environment. The gas is then compressed and used to heat water by means of a heat exchanger.
The system offers many advantages: the panels may overlap in cases where space is limited and are not restricted to roofs, as they may also be attached to walls. They do not need to be protected from wind, as they may also benefit energetically from it. In areas with a rainy climate like Galicia (or most of Northern Europe, for that matter), their main advantage, though, is that they keep on working even on cloudy and cool days.
The company sells in Italy, France, Belgium, Chile and the US (Miami). This year, it plans to expand to Greece and the UK. Typical clients for these solar collectors are swimming pools, hospitals, residential areas and hotels.
(Photo: Courtesy of Solar PST)
Solar PST is looking for new outlets for its technologies. Along with its partner Telemo Communications, it has deployed a first batch of a hundred solar phone booths around Spain. These are off-grid, standalone systems that not only get energy from the sun during the day: they also recharge at night.