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Solar thermal steps up

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High Five
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Solar thermal, a method of heating water with solar energy, is not as popular as photovoltaic energy, which turns solar into electricity.

However, the solar thermal industry says it has a greater potential to create energy, and hopes to expand its use in Oregon with new projects using $2.36 million in tax credits.

Solar thermal systems heat water, using energy collected from the sun. They work by raising temperatures in tubes of liquid, which loop through water-holding tanks. The systems are said to have potential for large water customers like athletic centers with heated pools, college dorms, agricultural food processors, and most notably hotels, which can spend between 50 percent and 60 percent of their utility costs on water heating alone. Businesses already using solar thermal systems include Willamette University, East Portland Community Center and the Mt. Hood Athletic Club in Sandy, Oregon.

Last month, the Oregon Department of Energy announced the pre-certification of $2.36 million in tax credits for additional solar thermal projects in 15 counties in Oregon through the Business Energy Tax Credit program. The list includes projects proposed at Lane and Mt. Hood Community Colleges, Western Oregon University and the cities of Coos Bay, Corvallis and Dallas. It also includes solar thermal plans for farms, fish markets, apartments, condos, hotels and a nursery.

Read more at Sustainable Business Oregon.

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