Sustainability is the foundation of our entire business idea

Today, everyone is talking about sustainability. For natural reasons. The climate crisis is a fact. But to us, sustainability is not just part of our company. It is the foundation of our entire business concept. When we started Samster several years ago, we asked ourselves: How can we create smart energy solutions with a focus on replacing fossil fuels? The result was our world-unique solar hybrid.

Why is it important to replace fossil fuels?

When we use fossil fuels as an energy source, CO2 is formed. CO2 is the gas that contributes the most to global warming and the acidification of our oceans.

And this is happening way too fast.

For ten thousand years, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere and the temperature have remained the same. But since the 19th century, CO2 levels have increased by 40 percent, and the earth has become one degree warmer. And only in the last 200 years, the acidity of the ocean has increased by as much as 25 percent.

If we do nothing about the situation, climate change will have catastrophic consequences. Animals and plants in the sea and on land are threatened with extinction when their habitat rapidly changes. Humans risk poorer health when insects and diseases spread. Freshwater shortage and long periods of drought and starvation can lead to enforced mass migration.

And fossil fuels are the biggest culprit. Fossil fuels are also finite – they are consumed faster than they are replenished. That means, one day, they will run out.

Renewable solar energy is the way forward

Renewable solar energy is the way forward

Fortunately, there are other, better, renewable energy sources. The sun, for example. When the sun’s rays are converted into energy, zero CO2 is emitted – and no other environmentally hazardous emissions either, for that matter. In addition, solar energy can be used to produce both heat and electricity. The sun is also our largest renewable energy source and will not run out of energy – at least not for another few million years or so.

Technology in solar energy is advancing rapidly and is expected to play a significant role in the energy systems of the future. Other renewable energy sources are wind power, hydropower, and geo-energy.

Why solar hybrids are the energy solution of the future

Why solar hybrids are the energy solution of the future

Solar hybrids are the energy solution of the future. Both solar energy and geo-energy that solar hybrids use are renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources.

But the main advantage of solar hybrids is not that they produce environmentally friendly energy – but that they reduce the number of kilowatt-hours.

Because the best kilowatt-hour is not the one produced environmentally friendly. It is the one that is not consumed at all. A saved kilowatt-hour is always the best. 

By choosing solar hybrids, you contribute to a greener planet and pave the way for a sustainable future.

When Samster’s solar hybrids first saw the light of day
Kent Samuelsson is one of Samster’s founders and a true environmental hero. But what is the story of when Samster’s solar hybrids first saw the light of day? Tag along on Kent’s journey towards a more sustainable society characterized by technology, curiosity, innovation, and the dream of a climate-smart energy solution that would soon become a reality.

The environmental nerd who wanted to save energy

Kent Samuelsson’s great interest has always been energy-saving. Initially, he trained to become an electrical engineer to work with wind power. But it didn’t entirely turn out that way. Instead, he got into building automation and energy saving for properties. 25 years later, he is still in the business.

​– I have worked with energy-saving all my life and have been such an environmental nerd from the very beginning. In the late ’90s, I started working with solar energy and combining solar cells with heat pumps. It was an exciting technique, but there were many challenges.

A common interest in creating something better, something new

In 2007, Kent met Vilhelm Steiner. They didn’t know it then, but a common interest in creating something better, something new, would result in a unique energy solution, a long-lasting friendship, and a company built upon the idea of creating a more sustainable future.

– Ville and his dad made a heat pump system for our company. He told me about the challenge he had with cold heat pumps not being as efficient as they could be. At the same time, solar cells were on the rise. Working with solar energy, I told him about the challenge I had with hot solar cells not being as efficient as they could be. And then, we started discussing how we could beneficially combine the two systems.

The result was Samster’s unique solar hybrid. By cooling the solar cells and heating the borehole, Kent and Ville could increase the efficiency of both solar cells and heat pump.

A common interest in creating something better, something new

Although Kent describes himself as an environmental nerd, he doesn’t lead an extreme eco-friendly lifestyle. For him, it is more about figuring out what can be done on a larger scale to contribute to a better environment.

– Caring for the environment is nothing new. It has been known since the ’70s and even earlier. The 1973 oil crisis showed just how vulnerable a society we have built with our oil dependence. CO2 emissions have increased over time, and global warming will have the worst effects in the long run. At present, the acidification of our oceans is the most acute.

– I am not extreme in any way. I don’t live in a mud house or grow my own vegetables. When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time with field biologists. I learned that what you can do for the environment as one person only makes a small difference. However, what you can do for the environment on a larger scale – such as developing a solar hybrid that can benefit the whole world – makes a big difference.

– Even if I cut my CO2 emissions down to zero, I have only cut about 10 tons of CO2 per year, while a single solar hybrid system cuts about 300 tons of CO2 per year. If all properties in Sweden were to install solar hybrids, we would cut approximately 8 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Making an environmental difference on a larger scale simply provides greater benefits.

Renewable energy can never beat a saved kilowatt-hour

But Samster’s solar hybrids not only help reduce the use of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions. The main advantage is they cut power.

– We do not have an energy shortage in Sweden. We export 14 terawatt-hours per year on a net basis. It is a lack of power we have – so it is the power we need to cut. Using renewable energy and solar energy is great, but it can never beat a saved kilowatt-hour.

– When we developed Samster’s solar hybrids, we first looked at saving power and second at replacing the remaining energy in an environmentally friendly way. With Samster’s solar hybrids, we supply heat to the boreholes so that the heat pump requires less power. The energy needed to power the system is taken from the sun, a fossil-free and renewable energy source. With Samster’s solar hybrids, we cut lots of both energy and power, which gives tremendous environmental benefits. Our driving force is – and always has been – to do as much good for the environment as possible.

Large-scale Samster: This is the extent of environmental benefits Samster’s solar hybrids can bring to Sweden.

If all of Sweden’s single-family homes were to install solar hybrids, less energy would be needed for heating. The energy demand would decrease to the extent that we could eliminate nuclear power plants in Sweden. Additionally, it would cost significantly less, and carbon dioxide emissions would decrease dramatically.

This is what the heating of Sweden’s households looks like today

Approximately 500,000 households in Sweden today use geothermal heat pumps, and around 600,000 households utilize water-based electrical systems or direct electricity for heating.

How much power can Samster’s solar hybrids capture?

As an example, we have chosen to describe a commonly encountered system that includes solar hybrids and a heat pump with a capacity of 10 kilowatts. The borehole is 180 meters deep, and the geothermal hole has a temperature of 8°C.

The geothermal hole has become too cold

After 15 years, the geothermal hole has cooled down, with temperatures ranging between 0 and 12°C, and the heat pump is drawing 5 kilowatts.

Changing the heat pump makes no difference

I ett försök att öka effekten på värmepumpen byter man ut den mot en ny. Men värmepumpen drar fortfarande 5 kilowatt – eftersom den inte kan använda sin fulla kapacitet då bergvärmehålet fortfarande är för kallt – och elpatronen måste gå in och jobba i stället.

Solar hybrids are installed and cut power consumption

In this case, the decision is made to install solar hybrids. The heat from the solar cells is used to warm up the geothermal hole, allowing the heat pump to operate at its full capacity. The temperature in the geothermal hole rises back up to 8°C, and the heat pump now only draws 2.5 kilowatts instead of 5 kilowatts.

So, the reduced power draw is now 2.5 kilowatts.

So, what would happen if more houses installed solar hybrids? How much environmental benefit could Samster’s solar hybrids achieve?

If the 500,000 houses that already have heat pumps today were to install solar hybrids, the power consumption would be reduced by 1.25 gigawatts.

If the remaining 600,000 houses in Sweden that use water-based electrical systems or direct electricity were to install solar hybrids and heat pumps, the power consumption would be significantly reduced by 5.75 gigawatts.

But isn’t it expensive to convert your heating system to solar hybrids?

It depends on what the alternative is. A total investment of 230 billion SEK to install solar hybrids in Sweden’s single-family homes could replace 5750 megawatts in capacity. This corresponds to more than 80% of the total capacity of nuclear power in Sweden.

Thus, it would be possible to replace almost the entire nuclear power capacity in Sweden solely by installing solar hybrids and heat pumps in a portion of Sweden’s single-family homes – a climate-smart solution benefiting both the environment and the economy.

The estimated cost for the renovation and restart of the nuclear power plants Ringhals 1 and 2 is 200 billion, providing 1,781 megawatts in capacity. The cost corresponds to 112 million SEK per megawatt, while the cost of installing solar hybrids and heat pumps in Sweden’s single-family homes is only 40 million SEK. Furthermore, nuclear power plants are more expensive to operate and generate waste lasting for another hundred thousand years.

So, how expensive is it really when the alternative is paying with our future?

How much energy can be saved with Samster’s solar hybrids?

Samster’s solar hybrids cut an average of about 8,000 kilowatt-hours per year. If all of Sweden’s single-family homes were to install solar hybrids, we could save 21.5 terawatt-hours per year.

How much CO2 and nuclear waste can Samster’s solar hybrids reduce?

There are different ways to calculate this, such as using the Swedish electricity mix, Nordic electricity mix, and Residual Mix calculations. The most accurate is the Residual Mix, which also includes nuclear waste:

With 338 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour and 0.0014 grams of nuclear waste per kilowatt-hour.

If all of Sweden’s single-family homes installed solar hybrids, we would save 21.5 terawatt-hours per year. This corresponds to approximately 7.3 million tons of CO2 and 3.1 tons of nuclear waste per year. This can be compared to Sweden’s total emissions in 2018, which were 51.8 million tons.

In other words: Samster’s solar hybrids on a large scale make a significant difference in terms of energy savings, the environment, and the economy.