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Solar thermal based heating and drying is a down-to-earth application; but this unassuming concept works, and works pretty well, with payback periods of less than four years in some cases.

Planters Energy Network installed almost 300 m2 on the roof of the paint shop belonging to the bicycle factory of TI Cycles of India – it is claimed that this is one of the largest solar air heating systems nationwide.

This was done at the Chennai factory of TI Cycles. With the cost of kerosene had been rising with time, officials at TI Cycles were prompted to look into adopting alternative technology that would not only save fuel, but also provide a clean energy source. The strategy paid off for them: In reference to the first year’s operational results, the estimated Indian Rupees (INR) 2 million investment will be repaid in less than two years, supported by a national capital subsidy of 1,750 INR/m2 of collector area. Moreover, the company profited from a 80 % accelerated depreciation on investment costs in this first year.

The hot air generated by the field of glazed air collectors is used in the factory’s paint shop for pre-heating the hot air of dryers and ovens, the machines that will then dry and cure painted bicycle parts. The air temperature for the curing process ranges from 80 to 150 °C.

More information:

TI Cycles of India

Article credits – Solar Thermal World

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