In this case, the storage capacity is obviously much less, merely coping with a 24-hour demand. The demonstration project at Ravensburg supplies 29 terraced houses with hot
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water and space heating via a four-pipe district heating network. It is calculated that this should meet 11% of the total heat requirement of the estate (see Fig. 2.15).
Solar systems with diurnal storage are mainly used to supply domestic hot water to large housing estates, large apartment blocks or hostels. They are designed to achieve a solar fraction of 80-100% in summer, representing 40-50% of annual heating demand in central and northern Europe.
Both seasonal and diurnal systems should be designed as part of a comprehensive energy efficiency programme involving insulation and rational energy conversion and supply. This can result in energy savings of 60% against the current norm.5
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The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.