Finally, solar district heating has reached Italy too: Utility Varese Risorse, which is part of the environmental multi-utility group A2A, brought its solar thermal plant into operation on 19 May. The idea for this project, which also came about thanks to support from Intelligent Energy Europe project SDHplus, was from 2013 when the utility began to show interest in using solar to lower the natural gas consumption of its district heating grid in summer. Staff members of Varese Risorse took part in the SDHplus training course and benefitted from initial feasibility calculations for the solar plant. The collector field of 990 m² has been set up across eight collector rows, seven of which were mounted onto the ground, and one onto the roof of a small technical building, which also houses the heat exchanger and the control unit (see photo).
The European Solar Days (ESD) seem to have lost some momentum. Since the European Union stopped co-financing the ESD, it seems that several national partners among the so far more than 20 participating countries have found it harder to get monetary support for their work and all of the activities required for coordinating the Solar Days campaign at national level. Still, the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) has been able to agree with several previously participating countries on a common schedule from 1 to 15 May. Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Poland and Serbia have already told ESTIF about their activities in May (see the table below). Belgium, Denmark, Slovenia and Spain, however, will not offer any solar days this year. The photo shows an event in an primary school in Switzerland
How can solar energy be ideally integrated into an urban energy system? This has been the key question of IEA SHC Task 52: Solar Heat and Energy Economics in Urban Environments. One and a half years after the task´s start in January 2014, scientists from Germany, Denmark, Austria and Switzerland met in Freiburg for the third task meeting in mid-April to discuss cost assessments of existing plants and models for analysing complex urban energy systems. One of the first published outcomes is a study carried out by Austrian research institute AEE INTEC. It lists the costs of existing solar district heating plants in Denmark, Germany and Austria. The chart shows the preliminary results from levelised heat costs calculated for 29 collector fields of sizes between 500 and 55,000 m² integrated into district or micro grids.
After San Francisco, Freiburg and Beijing, it is now Istanbul’s turn to host the next international conference on Solar Heating and Cooling for Buildings and Industry, SHC 2015, from 2 to 4 December 2015. This year, the IEA SHC is partnering with the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation, ESTIF, and GÜNDER, the Turkish Section of the International Solar Energy Society. As in previous years, the conference will be organised by German service provider PSE. The recently started call for papers accepts submissions until 6 July 2015. Three conference chairs (from left) – Bülent Yeşilata (GÜNDER), Pedro Dias (ESTIF) and Daniel Mugnier (IEA SHC) – and a conference committee are in charge of setting up a conference programme which will cover a large variety of topics.
The Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC) has organised a consultation meeting with the Union of Tyre Municipalities (UOTM) to discuss the implementation of a solar ordinance in the south of Lebanon. The workshop took place in the Platinum Hotel in the city of Tyre on 9 May under the patronage of Abdel Mohsen El Husseini, President of the UOTM. This consultation meeting was a follow-up to a series of bilateral talks with individual municipalities to introduce and promote the implementation of a solar obligation at municipality level. With its 60 municipalities, the UOTM is committed to adopting a solar obligation in the framework of a pilot project.
The Jordan Minister of Environment, Dr Taher Shakhshir, inaugurated the first solar steam system in Jordan on 17 May 2015. The Fresnel collector plant was set up on the roof of pharmaceuticals producer Ram Pharma, located at the Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein Industrial Estate about 15 km away from Amman, Jordan’s capital. The concentrating Fresnel collectors manufactured by Industrial Solar, Germany, supply steam at 160 °C to the factory’s steam grid, which provides the energy needed for sterilisation, drying and fermenting. Solar energy is said to save around 30 % of the annual diesel demand for Ram Pharma processes.
Spanish authorities have launched a new subsidy scheme for energy efficiency measures with a budget of EUR 200 million. The scheme supports solar thermal as one of several technologies, giving it direct monetary support of 20 % of the system costs. On 5 May, the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism approved the so-called PAREER-CRECE programme (Programa de Ayudas para la Rehabilitación Energética de Edificios existents), a support scheme for increasing the energy efficiency of existing buildings. Since this very day, investors of solar thermal systems can apply for grants of up to 20 % of their investment costs (see the attached decree). In addition to the subsidy scheme, they can apply for a soft loan at Euribor rate without additional charges. These loans cover up to 70 % of the system costs and last 12 years. Applications for the programme can be submitted until 31 December 2016.
Solar thermal professionals who have taken an interest in solar district heating, in solar air conditioning or the Brazilian solar thermal market will be able to participate in dedicated conferences over the next months, namely the 3rd International Solar District Heating Conference in Toulouse, France, on 17-18 June, the 6th International Conference on Solar Air Conditioning in Rome, Italy, from 24-25 September and the 3rd Brazilian Solar Heating Congress in São Paulo, Brazil, between 2-3 September. All three events have already released their conference programme.
All smiles from Ritter Group management during the German Solar Thermal Technology Symposium at the beginning of May after they were given the innovation award for the demonstration plant of a steam-producing solar vacuum tube collector combined with a steam-jet chiller (from left): Thomas Weidemann, Division Manager Solar Collectors, Jürgen Korff, Chairman of Ritter Group management, and Dr Rolf Meißner, Managing Director of Ritter XL Solar. Ritter is a German manufacturer of CPC vacuum tube collectors. Five companies – among them Viessmann, Vaillant and Magontec – had applied for the award with a total of seven innovative technologies. The award is presented annually by the conference’s organiser, the East-Bavarian Institute for Technology Transfer, OTTI.