Nationwide Home Solar Power Contractors and Information
In part 1 of our interview, Apricus Founder & CEO Mick Humphreys talked about practical and effective solar heating applications. These include space, pool, and floor heating, as well as providing hot water needs for showers, baths, and other household needs. Now that we know how we can potentially use it, we'll find out more about its cost and efficiency. And if solar thermal is as fabulous as its cranked up to be, why don't more homeowners install these heating systems? Here's what Mick had to say:
Q: Which solar thermal applications cost more; which are generally less expensive?
A: The most inexpensive application would be retrofitting a solar thermal system into an existing water heater system. Sometimes a new/extra tank is not even needed – the home's current system can be adapted. Depending on the home's current system, this application would cost about $3,000-6,000.
If the homeowner is interested in investing into space heating, this requires a bigger and more complex system that would cost more. This kind of system could be anywhere from $6,000-20,000, depending on the size and complexity of the system.
Q: Is solar thermal equipment and installation more cost effective than PV? Why/why not?
A: Solar thermal installations are a very cost-effective option compared to photovoltaic technology. In terms of cost per watt of energy produced each year compared to initial investment, solar thermal is much lower.
For example, a $4,000 - $6,000 solar collector installation can produce as much as 8,530,000 BTUs (2500 kWh) of energy each year. To provide that same amount of energy, a 3kW solar PV system would need to be installed (based on 850kWh/year per kW panel capacity). The installation cost of the PV system, which is about $8-10 per Watt, would be about $24,000 – four times more expensive than the solar thermal system to attain a comparable return.
With heating being such a large portion of the bills a homeowner or small business owner faces in any given year, solar thermal technology offers a quicker return on investment.
Q: You mentioned that the Apricus system can help reduce the same amount of CO2 emissions as planting 200 trees. Please expand on that.
A: For each kWh of energy produced by an Apricus collector, about 1kg or 2.2lbs of CO2 is offset if compared to the standard electricity mix, and about 0.7kg or 1.54lbs if you are offsetting natural gas heating.
So given that an Apricus solar collector can provide around 2000-2500kWh of energy per year (depending on your location), that is equivalent to over 4400lbs of CO2. A growing tree absorbs about 10kg / 22lbs of CO2 per year. So 4400lbs would be 200 trees!
Q: Why haven't more homeowners caught up with solar thermal heating?
A: 1. Lack of availability - Apricus distribution network is growing rapidly, yet a lot of homeowners don't know about the technology or how to integrate it into their homes. Because homeowners don't have access to a lot of information about solar thermal hearting, they don't know what to look or ask for. We're hoping with greater awareness, homeowners will demand more solar thermal options.
2. Lack of understanding - The general public is still learning about solar energy, and even then people confuse solar PV with other solar options. People can be turned off by the high cost of solar PV and conclude that solar energy isn't for them. The media coverage has also been very heavily focused on solar PV and other renewable energy sources, and so many people don't realize that there are multiple options.
3. Lack of trained, knowledgeable professionals - While this is rapidly changing, there is a great need for trained professionals to educate homeowners, install systems and provide reliable upkeep on the solar thermal systems.
4. Lack of appreciation for the need to reduce our carbon footprint - If people are still driving a large SUV around, I can't imagine they will be too concerned about going solar. So environmental concern and awareness needs to increase, like it has elsewhere in developed countries.
- Mick Humphreys is the Founder and CEO of Apricus, a global company that provides simple and effective solar hot water solutions. Apricus' solar thermal systems are used in both residential and commercial applications, helping families and businesses battle the effects of climate change and rising energy costs.
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