Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are springing up all across the state, with Minnesota poised to go from roughly 35 MW of installed capacity to upwards of 400 MW by the end of 2016. Whoa! With all that excitement, sometimes the world of solar thermal is woefully overlooked.
With cheap natural gas and low delivered fuel prices, it has been a hard year for Minnesota’s solar thermal manufacturing and installing community. We spoke with one of the early manufacturers, Ron Anderson, to hear about a solar thermal collector that he manufactures up in Northeast Minnesota.
Tell us a little bit about the Solarway 6000.
The Solarway 6000 is a light, strong air heating solar panel, weighing in at only 75 pounds, 4’ x 8’ and only 4” deep. The glazing is .040 reinforced fiberglass poly and is resistant to hail, rocks, and the occasional ruffed grouse. We named it the “Solarway” to help guide the decision to use renewable energy and reduce further degradation of our environment. It has the ability to produce 6000 BTU/hr in bright sunlight. The Solarway 6000 will warm air flowing through the absorber to 140 degrees Fahrenheit or more and will heat 300 feet squared of an 8’ ceiling, well-insulated room. It is a matrix heater and the absorber has about 10,000 cubic inches of heat exchanger.
There is a lot of interest in the booming solar photovoltaic world. It seems like folks sometimes forget solar thermal technologies, even though there is a Made in Minnesota incentive available. Why solar thermal air heating?
The oldest solar panels ever made were air heat panels. They have the simplest design and the least number of parts to have problems with. For instance, there is no possibility of liquid leaks or adjustments for pH or leaking pumps. Solar thermal air heat is the best bargain around for the investment. Capture the energy of the sun to help reduce your heating bills!
How many installations of your products have there been? Any notable projects you would like to mention?
There are several installations ranging from Southern MN to Northwestern WI and Northern MN, even in Iowa and Indiana. There is a six-panel system on Brent’s Heating and Cooling in Carlton, MN on Highway 210. It’s pictured above for your story. Beautiful!