District heating delivers heat to millions of households primarily in Europe and Asia. Most of this heat is generated from burning natural gas and coal at costs significantly higher than what can be realized with Heliac’s panels.
Heliac’s first full-scale installation is a solar field generating power for a district heating facility owned and operated by E.ON in Denmark.
Heat generated by Heliac’s panels also allows for cooling when combined with absorption heat pumps. This market is still in its infancy in most places, but with the lower cost of energy this could change.
Heliac’s panels are competitive to fossil alternatives in systems down to 200 kW. This makes the panels an option also for local heating and cooling.
Heliac’s panels are suited for desalinating seawater as this requires the same temperatures as district heating. Since our district heating is competitive to natural gas when installed in not-so-sunny Denmark, the business case for our customers is even better in the more sunny regions where lack of potable water is a problem.
A total of 15% of the worlds primary energy is consumed by industrial processes below 400⁰C. These include most processes in the food & beverage industry, in the textile industry, most chemical processes, e.g. for plastics and pharmaceuticals, curing, and many more.
Heliac’s panels may on average be half the costs of generating this process heat.
Steam generated with Heliac’s panels can drive turbines generating electricity. The efficiency and the system for this power generation is the same as is known from concentrated solar power.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) under the US Department of Energy has shown that fossil-fired power plants can benefit from using solar-generated thermal energy as pre-heating in their existing production process. NREL estimates that US power plants has room for up to 22 GW of CSP, but that CSP is too expensive. Heliac’s panels may change this situation by generating heat at roughly one-fifth the cost of mirror-based CSP.
Power generated from heat converts roughly one-third of the energy into power whereas the rest of the energy is left as low-temperature heat. The low-temperature heat can either be emitted into the ambient air in which case it has no value, or it can be re-used in other processes such as desalination or district heating in which case it has the same value as the fuels that would otherwise be used for driving these processes.