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Advanced Storage of Solar Thermal Energy for Low Energy Housing
Countries like Germany, Switzerland and France are registering an increasing interest in low energy houses, mainly single family houses (40-45 kWh/m2 per year for space heating) combined with solar heat production.
As a result of this success, the Solar Heating and Cooling Programme of the International Energy Agency (IEA) has taken the opportunity to launch a taskforce to investigate new or advanced storage concepts in a thermal system (solar, heat pump or boiler) for low energy housing, especially during winter months, when storing solar energy for heating is more difficult.
Conclusions point out that Phase Change Material (PCM) combined with water is currently the most promising option. Water tanks have also revealed a substantial potential for improvements. New storage techniques might improve the efficiency of combustion cycles and new machines for delivering heat and cold might benefit from the R&D effort on storage.
In conclusion, an efficient system for storage of thermal energy is a fundamental condition to increase the productivity of solar systems. Insights provided by this the Solar Heating and Cooling Programme of the International Energy Agency are, hence, relevant to move forward this sector.