Besides the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, the world is facing another major crisis which is hardly acknowledged. It’s ‘global warming’ which has been concerning our scientists since the pre-industrial period where the Earth’s surface temperature is rising with every passing day. It is a huge threat to sustainability and its impact on the environment, ecosystems, society, animal kingdom and humanity will only get worse as the earth gets warmer. Even today, this phenomenon is affecting 98% of the world and has forced several species of birds and animals to migrate in search of a suitable ecosystem due to pervasive environmental change and spasmodic natural disasters. However, since the issue is now globally comprehensible, individuals, enterprises, organizations, and even nations have come forward to take initiatives towards fighting climate change and decelerating the temperature rise. Dynamism like this is slowly spawning a soft push to others as well by showing how to adapt to better choices and resources concerning sustainable development. It can be planting trees, indulging in sustainable transportation habits and energy-efficient appliances, using renewable energy, reducing the water waste, paring down carbon profile, innovation or even simply going vegetarian; the matter of fact is they are inspiring everyone around the globe to rise and make a change. One such motivator is SunDrum® Solar LLC who manufactures a unique thermal collector that fits underneath a standard PV panel creating a hybrid PV-T system (Combined Photovoltaic and Thermal). Its approach is to encourage both residential and commercial users to employ and operate with solar energy as it is the one renewable energy resource that can support the entire human population for an indefinite time and will remain accessible as long as we have Sun.
SunDrum® was founded by Michael Intrieri in 2008, an engineer who likes to solve problems, and considers global warming a dire predicament that needs our immediate attention. He asserts, “I started the company to prove that solar electric and solar thermal can co-exist together to provide economical solutions vs fossil fuels. SunDrum® Solar Hybrid (Photovoltaic/Thermal) innovations in heating and cooling dramatically improve solar economics by providing cost-effective hybrid assemblies and systems.” By installing SunDrum® Solar’s thermal collectors beneath the standard PV panels, users can capture five times more energy from the same footprint as before. Moreover, SunDrum® Solar helps increase the efficiency and life of PV panels by facilitating a cooling effect while also preserving aesthetics. These collectors are the primary component of SunDrum® Solar’s unparalleled HarvestH® thermal system which is a powerful source of space heating, space cooling, pool heating, and Daily-Hot-Water for any domestic or commercial building. They generate enough energy to fulfill the needs of its users 24 hours a day but also reduce the energy bill.
“I started the company to prove that solar electric and solar thermal can co-exist together to provide economical solutions vs fossil fuels.”
Harvest and Preserve
SunDrum® Solar has owned the world record solar consumption record at 86% since 2013. However, in 2014, SunDrum® Solar first started implementing HarvestHP™ systems. By implementing learnings of the first-generation systems, they were able to commission a 27kW (15.5kW thermal and 11.5kW DC electrical) HarvestHP™ residential system on a home in Washington, D.C in 2016. This system not only counterpoised 90% of the 2,100 square foot home’s energy bills, annually saving the customer a total of $2,900, as well as generated an additional $15,000 annual income under Washington D.C. SREC program. Further, in January 2017, commissioned a 42.3kW (27.3kW thermal and 15kW DC electrical) HarvestHP™ commercial system on a hotel in Bakersfield, California. Designed to provide thermal energy to heat domestic water and outdoor pool, and at the same time offset some of the hotel’s electrical power requirements. SunDrum® also received the honor AEE 2017 Innovative Energy Project of the year award for their contribution to Enser-Morris Hybrid P/T/HP System designed and built by Capital Sun group by utilizing a sandwiched dual collector system which combined highly efficient photovoltaic panels for generating electricity with SunDrum® Solar thermal panels installed behind the PV’s to provide heating and air conditioning.
In 2019, SunDrum® Solar surpassed its own excellency by employing a 1,300-collector hybrid solar PV-T campus at Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago, Illinois to provide electricity and hot water to dormitories and base laundry. Also a 10.7kW hybrid solar PV-T system on an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in San Jose, CA. This system converted the PV panels to hybrid modules providing 14.5MWh of energy, allowing the client to be net-zero. In addition, it reduced the customer’s cost of ownership to $9,000 as compared to a traditional system’s $113,000, and not to forget it sufficed 100% of their electrical, DHW, Space heating and space cooling needs for the entire home. The way SunDrum® Solar’s high-performance collectors increase the hours of operation of the thermal system to such extreme length makes it possible for their customers to have a faster return on their investment through unmatched savings on the energy bills and benefits of the government’s renewable energy incentive programs.
Sharing what the next step would be, Michael says,“It will be to develop partnerships to scale our solutions both domestically and internationally once our international patents are approved.”
Creating a brighter tomorrow
Michael shares, “Until recently our largest market was hotels. However, we have verticals in hotel, collegiate, multi-family, commercial pools, beverage processing/breweries, and residential. We have had to pivot, a number of times, in our history. Recently with Covid-19 our hotel and collegiate markets have been impacted. We are currently evolving our multi-family and residential, targeting residential housing developments where we can provide a solution for all their thermal needs, space heating, space cooling, pool heating, DHW, and electrical.The nice thing about the solution is its energy. Energy can be used in multiple ways.” Beyond doubt, SunDrum® is an innovative and dexterous company, with a dedicated team. Even in these extreme times all employeesare employed and working to achieve their mission.
SunDrum Solar’s headquarters are located in Hudson MA. To demonstrate solars capacity for heating and cooling, they are working with Maui Brewery to deliver over 30 tons of chilled water along with hot process water. But like any business, they have challenges to conquer before they can reach their full potential. Michael says, “We struggle with the low cost of natural gas. Until there is a serious effort to tax CO2 emissions to offset the low cost of the fuel source, we will be challenged. We will continue to innovate to improve our economics vs fossil fuels. This is driving us to develop solutions that provide heating and cooling. Plus, solutions allow a solar system to provide 100% of a client’s thermal needs.”
In the next five years, SunDrum® Solar’s team will have to tackle the Natural Gas pricing and political collateral to persevere renewable energy due to existing government shortfalls. But that doesn’t stop them from having a precise plan to move forward. While sharing what the next step would be, Michael says, “It will be to develop partnerships to scale our solutions both domestically and internationally once our international patents are approved.” It is indeed inspiring to see how innovation and skill lead to wonderful establishments such as SunDrum® Solar. They pride themselves in delivering high-performance solutions for their client’s total energy needs and in turn, reduces their carbon-footprint overall. It not only serves their customer but the entire world.