The Cost Savings Potential of Controlling Solar Thermal Collectors with Storage for Time-of-Use Electricity Rates

Walter Parker, Adewale Odukomaiya, Jeff Thornton, Jason Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus Citations

Abstract

Homes and commercial buildings account for roughly 40% of U.S. energy consumption. A significant portion of this energy consumption, and therefore utility cost, comes from domestic hot-water use. Solar collectors such as flat plate collectors, evacuated tubes, and combined photovoltaic/thermal panels, are renewable options that collect thermal energy and could help reduce utility costs. Hot water is generated by pumping a working fluid through the solar collector, where the fluid captures thermal energy via absorbed solar radiation incident on the collector surface. The collection of heat coincides with the availability of solar radiation, but the best time to use this thermal energy depends on the utility rate at a given time, which often changes throughout the day. In this work, we implement and simulate a control strategy using Transient System Simulation Tool (TRNSYS) that reduces utility costs by controlling when the system stores and uses thermal energy based on solar availability and time-of-use electricity rates. Our modeled results show that the control strategy can reduce utility costs associated with using hot water between 3% and 30%. We also show how the on-peak utility rates, the size and type of the solar collectors, and the location's climate impact the results.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)684-693
Number of pages10
JournalSolar Energy
Volume249
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 International Solar Energy Society

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-82070

Keywords

  • Control
  • Domestic hot water
  • Solar thermal collectors
  • Thermal storage
  • Time-of-use electricity rates

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