EME 811
Solar Thermal Energy for Utilities and Industry

7.0 Introduction


For well-being and health, the homestead should be airy in summer and sunny in winter. A homestead possessing these qualities would be longer than it is deep; and its main front would face south.

— Aristotle, circa 350 B.C.

It is very warm and light, not only from the direct rays of the sun, but by their reflection from the sea.

— Pliny, circa 100 A.D., referring to the 'winter retreat' dining room in his villa.

Passive solar architecture can trace its origins back thousands of years. Buildings have long been used as solar collectors and thermal storage systems (D&B Chapter 14). Today we have some well-defined ways of calculating the time-dependent loads within our buildings, the space heating requirements, and the thermal behavior of buildings (D&B Chapter 9). This enables the active heating of buildings using solar thermal collection systems (D&B Chapter 13). On top of that, there are districts that have centralized or distributed solar heating systems for use at a community wide scale. With the technology available to us today, we could supply the vast majority of all building heating worldwide with solar thermal energy at reasonable cost. The key element is seasonal solar thermal energy storage enabling an adequate solution for regions with long winters due to poor solar access during that time (D&B Chapter 8). Appropriately sizing systems is a critical step towards good and cost effective solutions.

Lesson Objectives

  • Describe the differences between active and passive systems/methods.
  • Understand the principles of different thermal energy storage types.
  • Examine the heating options for a residence or office. 
  • Perform basic thermal balance calculation for residential storage tank.

What is due for Lesson 7?

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Specific directions for different assignments are given in the table below and within this lesson pages.

Task Assignment Details Access/Directions
Readings Required

  • D&B Chapter 8  - section 8.3  (3 pages)
  • D&B Chapter 13 - sections 13.0--13.2, 13.5, and 13.8 (15 pages)
  • D&B Chapter 14 - sections 14.0--14.3 (4 pages)
  • D&B Chapter 20 - (22 pages)
  • Webite:  Drake Landing Solar Community.

  • D&B all of Chapter 8, 13, and 14
Registered students can use the following link to access the online textbook through the University Library.
Assignment Mini-proposal on residential heating solutions.  More directions to the assignment are provided on the 7.3. Assignment page of this lesson.
Quiz 10 multiple choice questions based on assigned readings Registered students can access the quiz in the Lesson 7 Module in Canvas.
Discussion  Thermal energy storage: best options for the present; best ideas for the future Please read directions and post your reflection in Lesson 7 Discussion in Canvas.


If you have any questions, please post them to our Questions and Answers discussion forum in Canvas. I will check that discussion forum daily to respond. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help out a classmate.