Low-Temperature Solar Thermal-Power Systems for Residential Electricity Supply under Various Seasonal and Climate Conditions

Julian Osorio, Stiven Zea, Alejandro Rivera-Alvarez, Gustavo Patino-Jaramillo, Rob Hovsapian, Juan Ordonez

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2 Scopus Citations


In this work, the performance of low-temperature (<100 °C) solar thermal-power systems to satisfy residential electric loads was analyzed. The solar-driven system was designed to provide a fraction of the total electricity demand in a complementary operation with the electric grid. The analysis was conducted for an coperation during seven days each season, considering real solar and climate variables and residential loads at different climate zones in the United States. The efficiency of the system strongly depends on the solar radiation profile and the ambient temperature. Maximum efficiencies of around 9.5% were obtained in the cold and marine climate zones due to the high solar energy input and low heat dissipation temperatures. In these two zones, the system could supply more than 98% of the electricity demand all seasons. At mixed-humid and hot-humid regions, the system supplied around 50% of the electric load in three of the four seasons, but it only supplies about 27% of the electricity needs in the mixed-humid zone during summer and hot-humid zone during winter. The effect of the solar collector field area and the tank volume was also analyzed. In general, larger solar fields positively impact the efficiency. However, the impact of the tank volume varies depending on the solar radiation profile and the load requirements. Average efficiencies for the seven-day operation can be larger than 6% with a proper selection of the solar collector area and tank volume for an Organic Rankine Cycle with a capacity of about 2.6 kW. Finally, an economic analysis of the system was conducted, and the results were compared with a solar PV + battery system of similar capacity. It is expected that the cost for the analyzed solar-thermal system decreases in the coming years with the increased interest on low temperature applications.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number120905
Number of pages18
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-84362


  • Climate zones
  • Low-temperature solar thermal-power
  • Organic Rankine Cycle
  • Residential load
  • Season conditions
  • Thermal energy storage


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