Solar heating could cover more than 80 percent of domestic heating requirements in Nordic countries

June 20, 2017, Aalto University
Credit: Aalto University

According to researchers at Aalto University, by using suitable systems, more than 80 percent of heating energy for Finnish households could be produced using solar energy. As the price of heating energy obtained from solar heating systems needed to be competitive with the currently used heating alternatives, calculations made by researchers showed that renewable energy could be used to cover 53 to 81 percent of annual domestic heating energy consumption depending on the technical implementation method.

'In principle, this result is also valid for Sweden, Norway and other locations at the same latitudes. Of course, local conditions have some effect on this,' says Hassam ur Rehman, a doctoral candidate at Aalto University.

The researchers calculated the amount of solar heat obtained for heating the households when excess was stored for use during cold periods. The researchers calculated the amount of heat obtained for practical use when energy for heating households was accumulated using solar heating and the accumulated heat was stored for use during cold periods. In their calculations, the researchers studied the use of both above-ground water tanks for short-term heat storage and a borehole storage suited for seasonal storage. The results depended on the method of how the heat pumps and the water storage tanks and the borehole storage for storing heat were used together.

The heating of buildings is one of the largest sources of in Europe. In the EU, this heating takes up 40 percent of all energy consumption.

Credit: Aalto University
'In Finland, more than 80 percent of the energy consumption in households goes to heating buildings and water, and this is on the increase. Solar energy offers economically sensible solutions for the collection of energy for this purpose, and for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, especially in southern Finland where the majority of the population lives,' says Kai Sirén, Professor at Aalto University.

The decrease in prices has already made solar energy a viable alternative in the energy market in the Nordic countries as well. For example, in Denmark, the use of in district production has rapidly increased.

Sirén feels that it is important to continue the research work, which will require measurement results on a system built and implemented in Finland.

'We are talking about a computational result which includes factors of uncertainty even if the initial values have been carefully selected and the simulations conducted meticulously,' Sirén reminds us.

Explore further: Environmentally friendly, almost electricity-free solar cooling—also serves as a heat pump

More information: Hassam ur Rehman et al. A long-term performance analysis of three different configurations for community-sized solar heating systems in high latitudes, Renewable Energy (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2017.06.017

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5 / 5 (1) Jun 20, 2017
Built a solar collector for preheating water and a PV panel on my dad's roof about 15 years ago (roughly equal size). Both have since paid for themselves. The collector far faster than the PV panel. It paid for itself within 3 years as opposed to the panels which took about 11 years - of course at the time solar panels where a rather pricey item so the time would be a lot shorter using today's panels. Still: heat collectors pay for themselves faster and make a lot of sense as heat is something you can store for the night with minimal tech.
not rated yet Jun 27, 2017
The collector far faster than the PV panel. It paid for itself within 3 years as opposed to the panels which took about 11 years

The difference is far greater, considering that the feed-in subsidies for solar PV were a whopping 50 cents a kWh back then. Many people installed a second meter for the panels to avoid "using" any themselves - it was far more profitable to sell out. Proportional at today's levels, it would have taken 45 years to pay back, and without a subsidy - forever.

Of course the panel prices have dropped since.

The solar heat array I presume was unsubsidized. Hot water and space heating, particularily in Germany, is the greater part of household energy consumption and hot water can actually be stored efficiently and in large amounts, which makes the solar heat collectors far more useful than PV panels.

Makes you wonder why they didn't subsidize them instead.

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