Interest in the use of solar energy is growing every day due to the rising cost of other forms of energy and because of the increase in ecological awareness for environmental preservation. Solar heating is the ideal solution for energy saving. The advantage of the solar systems in relation to the other systems is that it is environmentally friendly. They save an average of 50% – 60% annual energy needs. Except for household purposes, solar systems have been used for solar industrial heating, industrial lights and for many industrial processes.
Solar industrial heating system
The temperature that is required for most of the industrial process (such as textile, machinery, paper, wine and food industry) is usually below 250°C, and can be well supplied by solar heating technologies. Also, commercially available solar panels can supply heat for some industrial processes where the temperature level is about 80°C. According to one study (published by “ECOHEATCOOL”) temperatures below 100°C are required in about 30% of total industrial processes, and 57% of the industrial processes require temperatures below 400°C.
Unfortunately, solar industrial heating technologies are still at a low level and they are not yet widely available. The main barriers that prevent the development of these technologies are:
- Low awareness about the usefulness of these systems. Many owners of industrial plants have never heard of these technologies (especially in underdeveloped countries).
- People are suspicious of new technologies, and many have confidence only in the conventional, long-term proven systems.
- High investment costs like many other renewable energy technologies.
- For some industrial processes are necessary temperature >400°C, but it’s not a big problem because only about 10% of the industrial processes require such a high temperature.
- The lack of experts and engineers in this technology.
Solar industrial heating systems are most suitable for the following industrial sectors:
- Food industry (including beverage and wine)
- Textile industry
- Transport equipment
- Metal and plastic treatment
- Chemical industry
Areas of application (suitable industrial processes) are: drying, cleaning, pasteurization, evaporation and distillation, melting, sterilization and surface treatment. In addition, solar heating systems are very suitable for space heating and cooling of factory halls.
The main components of solar industrial heating systems are:
- Solar collectors – evacuated tube collectors or water-based flat plate collectors
- Heat storage with high capacity
- Mounting equipment
- DC-to-AC inverters
Industrial solar lights
Solar lamps are used for solar-powered household lighting, street lights, garden lighting and also for industrial purposes. It is mainly a portable light fixture consists of: photovoltaic solar panel (panels must be with large surface area for factories), LED lamp (light emitting diode) and a rechargeable battery.
In the following you find an illumination value for industrial purposes:
- Production hall → Typical brightness 500-1500 lx
- Development, office → Typical brightness 300-750 lx
- Laboratory, inspection work → 750-1500 lx
- Packaging of products → 150-500 lx
- Storage → 100-300 lx
Every high capacity lighting system can supply this amount of light. Solar industrial lights are suitable for small and medium-sized halls. Unfortunately, many factories still use conventional ways of lighting. With indoor solar lighting systems, factory owners could significantly save their electricity bills.