Thermal Storage Demonstration at CCHRC

Click on graphic for live data on our solar thermal system. 
Temperatures updated every hour here.
For more detailed information updated every 30 seconds click here.

CCHRC is demonstrating a thermal storage system that uses a massive tank of water to seasonally store energy from the sun. There is growing interest in using thermal storage in Alaska to replace traditional heating sources.  Alaska receives abundant sunlight during the summer but hardly any in the winter, when heating loads are greatest. Thermal storage allows us to capture heat with solar collectors in the summer and tap into it during the heating season. 

In 2013, we installed 16 solar thermal collectors and buried a 25,000 gallon water tank in the ground. Solar collectors will transfer heat into the tank in the summer through a heat exchanger, and the radiant floors will draw from this heat in the winter. The system is expected to produce 50 million BTUs a year, or the equivalent of 400 gallons of heating oil, one-third of the building's total demand. This demonstration will provide clues about how to best design a residential system and the potential costs and savings for homeowners.  The lessons learned here will be shared to help develop sustainable building and energy solutions for Alaska and other circumpolar communities.

This experimental solar seasonal storage project was funded by a $70,000 grant from BP Alaska, which includes solar hot water collectors and a heat storage system to enable solar energy to be stored and used during the winter. The tank was donated by K&K Recycling.















View Flickr slideshow here.

CCHRC is watching the temperature of the ground underneath the solar thermal tank. The tank is over permafrost and could melt the permafrost in that location significantly. Click here to view daily ground temperatures.

Read an Economic Case Study of the system here.


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Thermal Mass Study Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb and store heat energy, which can be useful when it comes to cold climate housing. This project clarifies the role of thermal mass in housing and includes a literature review and energy modeling with IDA Indoor Climate and Energy (ICE) software.
Ground Source Heat Pump & Solar Thermal at Weller School CCHRC and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power conducted the first in-depth assessment of ground source heat pumps in Alaska. We studied a system at a local elementary school that uses warmth from the ground to heat the building, and recharges the soil with solar energy in the summer.
Thermal Storage Technology Assessment Thermal storage allows you to store heat for later use, such as storing solar or wood heat. This report examines the potential of thermal storage systems to enhance the use of renewable heating systems in cold climates and improve the efficiency of heating systems.