EME 811
Solar Thermal Energy for Utilities and Industry

9.4. Assignment


The Solar Heating and Cooling Program of the International Energy Agency is documenting the majority of solar thermal projects in a database. Understanding system components and how external forces, such as policy and alternative fuel costs, impact decision is critical to being effective in the sector of industrial processing.

This assignment is a series of short answer problems and calculations. These problems will require both conceptual thinking and some quantitative operations.

Lesson 9 Problem Set:

1. Take a look at Figure 16.6.1 in the D&B text. Why would a system be designed with a flat plate collector in series with a concentrating collector? Please discuss at least two benefits of this configuration.

2. Equation 16.4.1 in the D&B text says that the useful energy gain (Qu) of an open-circuit air heating system is proportional to the area of the collector (Ac), how much heat is removed from the system (FR) based on fan speed, and how much solar energy is incident on the collector minus optical losses (S). Check out a project in Germany of an air heating system for a vehicle paint shop. Which of the three variables (Ac, FR, S) that impact Qu must be increased if the system owner wanted to supply air to a second paint room? Why?

3. There are several ways that a solar thermal energy system’s capital cost can be paid back within a reasonable time frame. Tax credits, other tax benefits such as depreciation, high alternative fuel costs (including a carbon tax), and more. Download the Lesson7-STE-Payback.xlsx file from Canvas in the Lesson 7 Module. If you do not have access to Microsoft Excel or an equivalent spreadsheet editor, use Google Drive (Upload the file to drive.google.com, check the box next to the file once uploaded to drive, then click More>Open with>Google Sheets). In that spreadsheet, there are several cells highlighted in green that are the input cells to the payback calculator. Adjust any/all of those values appropriately to achieve a system payback period less than 10 years. Your adjustments should match a specific project that actually exists (e.g., from the solar thermal projects database), including location specific details such as annual solar resource. Policy related adjustments (tax credits, carbon tax, etc.) should be based on real policies for your location. If you are not able to find actual policies for your location, policies from other locations are okay to use if necessary. All policy related adjustments must be supported by references. Deliverable: a write-up describing the project you are assessing including a table of your adjustment values, an exported payback graph from the spreadsheet, and written justification (including references) for each of the values that you selected.


Submit completed problems in a single pdf file to the Lesson 9 Dropbox in Canvas by 11:55PM on Wednesday. Please check Canvas Calendar for specific deadlines.