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The solar PV era is entering into its mature stage with Italy in the forefront due to its large installed power (around 14 GWp in summer 2012), the generally very favorable insolation as well as the worldwide price decrease.
While the spreading of the PV generation has produced a significant daytime “peak shaving” effect, the decrease of power market prices as well as has pushed off the market the most costly oil and gas power plants, the operating costs of the power grid have mildly risen due to the intermittent PV generation, and the feed-in tariffs had to be frequently reduced in order to match and further pursue the decreasing investment costs as well as to limit the net spending by the power consumers.
As a result, the new Italian PV incentives law (June 2012) captures the essential features of the new solar era: all-inclusive and decreased tariffs as well as an additional bonus for PV power consumed by internal loads (not fed into the grid).
On the basis of the above, the requirements for the energy end uses and the respective equipment served by PV installations in any kind of buildings clearly arise, shortly: electrification and load profile matching the PV average generation profile.
About the air conditioning of buildings and greenhouses, while in summer it is usually powered by electricity as well as its load profile closely matches the PV generation, in winter the vast majority of the heating devices are powered by natural gas (diesel for greenhouses), moreover the usual load is shifted to the evening and night.
In order to capture the opportunities of the mature PV solar era, the winter heating should shift to the electrical powering as well as match the PV generation profile, while increasing its energy efficiency and preserving limited installation and operating costs to pursue an overall significant economic convenience.
On the basis of the above criteria, the simple electric boilers are ruled out due to their limited energy efficiency, while the heat pumps, despite their high efficiencies (even though depending on the environmental conditions) are generally unable to rise the temperature of the heat carrying liquid during the daytime up to the levels (>80°C) needed for storage in order to support the nighttime heating distribution, unless additional complex and costly devices are added.
A brand new class of devices for the heating generation and storage is presented, which after extensive experimental testing has shown to match all the above requirements for the mature solar PV era and the new Italian PV incentives law: electrically powered, very high energy efficiency regardless of environmental conditions, ability to rise the temperature of the heat carrying liquids to any level for its daytime storage, autonomous, very simple and commercial components, very low installation and operating costs, virtually no maintenance.