Solar Energy

Solar Energy is largely associated with Solar power applications. While many people associate solar energy with electricity-producing photovoltaic (PV) panels, solar can also be used for heating purposes. Solar thermal energy is mostly employed to warm swimming pools and residential water around the globe, but it can also be used for many types of industrial processes. It is a fact that predominantly the thermal energy comes from burning fossil fuels. While remaining  of thermal industrial energy comes from electricity, it is often generated by power plants that burn fossil fuels. Industry’s role as one of the largest consumer of energy in a country, its large heat requirements, and its heavy reliance on fossil fuels, present tremendous opportunity for application of solar thermal technology.

While PV panels convert solar radiation into electricity, the solar thermal collectors convert the sun’s rays into usable heat. This usable heat then is available for a variety of industrial thermal consumption. There are different rate of solar energy conversion for electricity and thermal, which is called Solar conversion efficiency. Solar thermal conversion efficiency is around 70 % in comparison to 17 %  for PV panels. Solar thermal energy at present, however have very limited application in the industrial sector.

In thermal applications, solar energy is gathered in solar thermal collectors to create high temperature steam and low temperature heat, which can be used in a variety of heat and power applications in the residential and industrial sector. UNIDO particularly emphasizes solar thermal applications as they provide an economically and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional fossil fuel technologies in industrial applications.