One of the challenges of the solar thermal market is the lack of effective monitoring of solar thermal system output and efficiency. It’s significantly easier, and cheaper, to monitor photovoltaic system output and generation than it is to monitor solar thermal. And without that transparency, it’s more difficult to market solar water heating technology.
SunReports, a solar and renewable energy monitoring firm based in California, has become the first in the state to offer a complete monitoring system that meet the strict requirements of the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Program. The strict standards of the program included measurement accuracy laid out by the CSI Solar Thermal system handbook for monitoring system output.
"Approval under CSI's strict guidelines is especially difficult as the specs are tight,” said Thomas Dinkel, CEO of SunReports. "We are eager to do whatever we can to stimulate the California solar thermal market, and feel that accurate monitoring is an important part of its growth. Strong markets are built upon transparency, and the accurate system performance data we provide provides unprecedented clarity to the industry, ultimately helping to ensure customers that their systems perform as promised."
In addition, CSI has decided that data from SunReports systems will be used to determine whether solar thermal systems meet performance requirements for the statewide California solar system rebate program.
To be successful, SunReports partnered with Grundfos VFS sensors to comply with CSI’s strict flow meter requirements of “Customer Performance Monitoring” and ONICON, to meet the tight specifications of the “Measurement” and “Evaluation” and “True Up” classifications.
Both SunReports’ Apollo1 and Apollo2 monitoring devices combine with FVS sensors from Grundfos and flow sensors and BTU meters from ONICON to comply with CSI guidelines and give homeowners access to accurate system performance measurements.
“Solar thermal technology has been around forever,” said Dinkel. “The industry veterans who we’ve shown the monitoring systems to are eager to see what the technology can do. It’s like a blind person having sight for the first time. They’ve never been able to actually see how the systems worked before. It’s great to see all the components, the output, and the temperatures.”
Image courtesy of Greenpeace.