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Solar energy is the cleanest, most abundant renewable energy source available. Today's technology allows us to harness this resource in several ways, giving the public and commercial entities flexible ways to employ both the light and heat of the sun.
There are three primary technologies by which solar energy is commonly harnessed: photovoltaics (PV), which directly convert light to electricity; concentrating solar power (CSP), which uses heat from the sun (thermal energy) to drive utility-scale, electric turbines; and heating and cooling systems, which collect thermal energy to provide hot water and air conditioning.
Solar energy can be deployed through distributed generation (DG), whereby the equipment is located on rooftops or ground-mounted arrays close to where the energy is used. Some solar technologies can also be built at utility-scale to produce energy as a central power plant.
These solar technologies directly produce electricity which can be used, stored, or converted for long-distance transmission. PV panels can be manufactured using a variety of materials and processes and are widely-used for solar projects around the world.
These technologies generate thermal (heat) energy for water & pool heating and space heating. Some people are surprised to learn that SHC technology can also be used for cooling. Solar heating technologies are cost-effective for customers in a variety of climates.
Using reflective materials like mirrors and lenses, these systems concentrate sunlight to generate thermal energy, which is in turn used to generate electricity. Similar to traditional power plants, many CSP plants are hundreds of megawatts (MW) in size and some can continue to provide power after sunset.
Solar-plus-storage Microgrid Powers Nicaraguan Resort Rancho Santana
Rancho Santana resort and residential community on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua is turning to solar and energy storage to alleviate the high cost of peak energy in the region. The plant will consist of a 200 kW/800 kWh flow battery from ViZn and an 800 kWp PV array. Lâl Marandin, principal and co-founder of the EPC PELICAN, S.A., explains, “Nicaragua has a very fast growing touristic sector with several new landmark projects. Renewable energy solutions with battery storage make sense for sustainable branding purposes, and because electricity tariffs for the hotel sector are high. Driven by 5-6-year payback periods, 10 to 20 solar projects between 500 kWp and 1 MWp could become reality in the coming years.” Ron Van Dell, CEO of ViZn Energy Systems adds, “The Rancho Santana project in Nicaragua is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential for highly versatile energy storage assets at remote locations like resorts, mining facilities, islands, etc. Whether they are grid-tied or a part of true microgrids, storage systems will provide the most functionality and ROI when they are capable of providing both energy and power services and this ability is what makes our zinc-redox flow batteries such an attractive option.”
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