The two foremost solar system types to capture the sun and convert its energy into useable electric power are solar photovoltaic and solar thermal. The difference? One captures sunlight and directly converts it into useable energy while the other works to heat massive engines to turn water into steam, powering a turbine generator to produce electricity.
Solar thermal electric energy generation’s process is a bit more complex. The sun’s rays are concentrated to heat a liquid or gas within the system – usually oil or water-based. The liquid or gas is then used to run a heat-powered engine to turn a generator, producing hot water. The hot water turns into steam powering a turbine generator to produce electricity. In some solar thermal systems, the heat can be stored during the day and converted to electricity at night.
Solar thermal can produce high amounts of energy, however, Photovoltaic or PV energy conversion is often more practical for businesses. This type of solar panel is placed on the roof or mounted to the ground. With the help of a small lightweight converter and a few other pieces, the photons produced by the sun are captured and transferred to a junction box that feeds usable power into your commercial electrical gird. Some businesses opt to also purchase a solar battery that is hooked up to the main system – allowing energy to be stored.
For most businesses, photovoltaic solar panels are more cost effective, easier to install, and offer a quicker ROI. Solar thermal systems are meant more for large-scale businesses or industrial plants. With the amount of moving parts, solar thermal is a costly initial expense, making a Solar PV system a more economical choice.
Curious about what solar panels could work for your business? Diversegy can help businesses navigate the process of selecting the right solar system for them. We look at not only cost but also ROI and energy output. Click on the “Free Analysis” button.