A Solar Energy Center for Long Island, NY

Long Island, Solar Energy, New York


This Long Island Solar Energy Center has been proposed as a research facility for the (SEC) at Farmingdale University, NY. It has the kind of solar roof that may be used to promote renewable energy  by demonstrating the cost effective nature of  efficient solar thermal design and the value of sunlight. PV panels that produce solar power to make electricity could also be incorporated in this design to provide the power needed to make it into an energy independent facility. (LIPA) provides some financial assistance with a 50% rebate program but a solar thermal roof would still be needed to make this into a cost effective investment. ( refer to solar_energy_facts)  Not all pioneers in the field of solar energy are willing to make the financial sacrifice needed to make photovoltaic power a competitive enterprise. 

By incorporating the heating, hot water and electrical needs of a dwelling into a hybrid system an attractive investment opportunity is created that should renew our faith in solar energy. This renewed faith could help usher in a "solar age" , create renewable energy job opportunities and encourage everyone to share the boundless diffuse energy of the sun. 

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Rather than piddle around with a few eyesores on your roof you could make your entire roof into one giant solar thermal roof eyesore. This all in one heat collection system could put a serious dent in your heating and hot water bills. It might even eliminate them entirely. If your roof is pitched and oriented in the right direction a system like this could easily harvest  an energy value of $2000/yr for a typical Long Island roof and pay for itself in less than 10 years. A PV panel or  thermal engine/solar thermal roof hybrid system could further reduce the pay back period.

Energy Independence                 Solar Energy, Long Island

But how can solar heat make electricity?

Good question. I thought you'd never ask. The answer to this question is a bit complicated. It involves more thought than bolting a row of solar panels or solar collectors to a typical roof. The pitch and orientation of most  roofs are not optimized to harvest the sun's energy so flush mounts are impractical and many people are offended by non-flush mount eyesores that jut and dangle from rooftops. Although retrofit afterthoughts facilitate the addition of solar application to a house they are, in most cases more impractical and more offensive than a solar roof.

An Energy Independent House  should be well planned. The best time to do this is before the house is built. Unfortunately this is not always an option. If you don't have a steep pitched roof facing south you'll need to reconstruct your house so that the roof is properly oriented. This may seem a bit much for most, but if you're thinking of adding a second floor anyway you could take the opportunity to build a solar roof. 


Well that's all very interesting but you still haven't explained how solar heat makes electricity?

Oh yes! Thermal electricity! Practical power generators that use low grade heat are still a bit of a pipe dream, but I expect they will provide viable alternatives in the coming years.

Stirling engine invented in 1817   works on any external heat supply like wood or alcohol or sunlight. Parabola Dish concentrators are sometimes used in conjunction with the Sterling engines to generate electricity. They work on the principle of temperature differential. Some Sterling engines operate at temperature differences less that 15 F, but they are not very powerful. The higher the temperature differential the more practical will be the engine.

Charles Tellier ammonia engine 1885 , the father of refrigeration, invented an engine that ran on the heat collected from flat plate collectors. A low boiling point gas (ammonia) was used to collect solar heat and power a kind of steam engine. A condenser was then used to recycle the ammonia. Tellier's invention worked fine, but I have something in mind that's less expensive, more efficient and more practical because the waste heat from the engine is used for home heating and hot water. 

John Canivan hybrid heat/power system 2004  This hybrid heating/power system would be used to to make Energy Independent Housing possible, but without the support of the government to finance the Solar Energy Research and Development Center at Farmingdale University the development of a solar heat hybrid system will be difficult if not impossible. 

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