Solar heat offers key advantages in race for renewable energy solutions

Emerging solar heat technologies possess unique potential to meet an increasing global demand for energy, according to a new briefing paper.

Co-author Dr Alba Ramos Cabal presented an overview of the paper at a launch event on Monday evening, hosted by the Grantham Institute. The event also invited policy makers and industry representatives to share their perspectives on the changing role of solar heat within the context of a transitioning energy market.

Sustainable future energy: What the paper proposes

The paper underlines the importance of identifying a clean and sustainable future energy system, in order to satisfy heat demand from an increasingly urbanised global population, and to meet environmental objectives on both a national and international scale.

“It’s great to have an incentive to start an industry off, but it has to serve development of the industry itself

– Finbarr McCarthy

Technical Manager at Kingspan

It argues that a drive to meet decarbonisation targets – most notably in Europe, but also elsewhere – could precipitate solar thermal’s disruptive innovation of the energy market. At present, only a handful of countries are on track to meet the European Union’s target of one square metre of solar-installations per person, while there is considerable scope within certain areas to increase the prevalence of solar-thermal systems.

Given that the current market is largely reliant on conventional energy sources – oil, gas and coal – it suggests that the potential for solar-thermal and hybrid photovoltaic-thermal (PV-T) technologies to be integrated within existing local energy systems presents an advantage over alternative renewables.

However, the paper acknowledges that scalability is an issue for current solar technologies, due to their often limited adaptability and flexibility, and…

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