Solar Energy Technician

Solar Thermal vs. Solar Photovoltaic: Understand the Difference with a Solar Energy Technician Diploma

November 06, 2018

The growing gap between energy supply and demand is placing more and more emphasis on renewable sources such as solar power. Many emerging green technologies rely on solar energy to operate and more people and companies are turning to solar power as an energy source.

Because solar power is still in a period of expansion, it can be complicated for the general public to understand how it works and the different ways it can function, as well as what options are available to consumers and what is still in development.

If you’re considering a solar technician career and want to learn more about solar power and the exciting energy trends you can expect to see, read on for more information.

How is Solar Energy Generated?

The sun emits energy in the form of particles of light known as photons, and these are captured using two different technologies known as solar photovoltaics (PV) and solar thermal systems.

Solar thermal technology produces energy by concentrating light from the sun to create heat. It is most commonly used to heat water or other liquids and doesn’t require much sophisticated technology to generate consumable energy. Flat plate panels are used as low to medium heat collectors, while concentrated solar systems such as a parabolic trough, reflectors and solar towers can be used to reach higher temperatures.

Photovoltaic energy absorbs photons and transforms them into electricity with a silicon-based technology. It is different from solar thermal technology because it generates electricity, while a solar thermal system does not generate additional energy but instead captures incoming heat.

Know the Pros and Cons with Solar Technician Certification

Solar thermal and PV technologies use different methods to achieve the same purpose of harnessing solar energy. Accordingly, both systems have different benefits and detractions, and in general vary in the amount of power they produce as well as the cost of a solar cell unit.

For those worried about space efficiency, solar thermal panels are smaller and less complex than photovoltaic systems, which means they are less expensive and more affordable for use by the general population. The panels, however, are not as effective in winter months due to the seasonal decrease in sunlight, and have a shorter lifespan than photovoltaic panels.

Solar power offers an exciting future of solar energy technicians

Photovoltaic systems are more versatile, and can generate enough energy to heat water and power appliances such as refrigerators and HVAC systems. Although only effective during daylight hours, PV panels have a long life span, and unlike a solar thermal system, can be installed anywhere and maintained by anyone with the proper solar technician certification. PV panels also do not freeze or lose functionality in winter, but they are more expensive and require more space than solar thermal cells.

What Does the Future of Solar Power Look Like?

Whether thermal or photovoltaic, solar energy is a promising technology that can ease the burden of energy demand and serve as a viable alternative to natural resources. Solar power is becoming increasingly prevalent across Canada, with a corresponding rise in PV cell installation for both residential and commercial use as solar technology becomes more affordable for the general public.

No matter the technology, the future of solar energy is promising for students at NATS

The price of solar power has decreased nearly seven-fold in the last decade, from $6.18 per watt to $0.85 per watt. As more solar systems are adopted throughout Canada and North America, there will be more demand for trained professionals who have earned their solar technician certification  to install and maintain generators and systems, making for a promising job outlook and a greener future.

Are you interested in a bright future with solar energy technician college?

Contact the North American Trade School today for more information.

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