WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to new industry data, a growing sector of the U.S. solar energy industry has reached a major milestone, with 5 million square feet of building-integrated solar air heating collectors now installed in North America.
Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), says these systems represent 250 megawatts (MW) of thermal energy and displace nearly 100,000 tons of CO2 each year from the atmosphere.
“Building-integrated solar air heating systems are often overlooked in the discussion about renewable energy,” Resch said. “We need to change that mindset. These cost-effective, energy-efficient systems can reduce by 20 to 50 percent the amount of conventional energy used for heating buildings – or for agricultural or process drying applications. That can represent a huge savings to companies, business owners and farmers nationwide.”
Solar air heating systems work by heating incoming ventilation air before it is brought into a building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC), using wall-mounted collectors that are typically made of metal and have 30-plus year lifespans.
“By our estimates, we can create more than 50,000 new American jobs and save $60 billion in energy costs over the next 30 years by expanding the use of innovative solar heating and cooling systems (SHC) across the United States,” Resch continued. “Today, approximately 44 percent of all American energy consumption is attributable to heating and cooling. As a nation, it’s time to re-think our strategy for generating energy for our homes, businesses, schools and government buildings.”
According to BEAM Engineering, a Boston-based energy consulting firm, SHC is the most efficient renewable technology for generating thermal heat and costs are as low as 6 cents per kilowatt (kWh) hour. Last year, SEIA’s Solar Heating and Cooling Alliance released a comprehensive report, detailing how SHC technologies can help to power the U.S. economy, while significantly reducing pollution.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2014, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to champion the use of clean, affordable solar in America by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.