The number one in the ranking of the worldwide largest flat plate collector manufacturers based on collector area produced in 2013 is still Austrian OEM collector manufacturer Greenonetec, followed by three non-European manufacturers from BRICS countries: Soletrol from Brazil, as well as two companies from China, Prosunpro and Five Star. Germany’s largest flat plate collector manufacturer, Bosch Thermotechnik, only came in fifth place, down from being second in the previous ranking in 2012. German agency solrico created the ranking after carrying out a worldwide survey among companies serving the solar thermal sector in September and October 2014. Who has ranked how well this year shows a lot about the international trends of the global solar thermal industry.
During the Task 48 meeting in Garching, Germany, at the end of September 2014, Daniel Mugnier, Head of Task 48 of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling programme, presented the monitoring results of a promising demonstration project which integrates solar cooling technology into an existing building cluster. Engineered by Tecsol, the system has been supplying energy to two buildings housing offices and flats in Montpellier, in the south of France, since May 2012. The special characteristic of the system owned by the SERM (Société d’Équipement de la Région Montpelliéraine) is a hybrid mode in which the 240 m2 field with double-glazed collectors supplies heat to a single-effect lithium-bromide absorption chiller in summer, as well as domestic hot water to the block of flats all year round. During the main cooling season in July and August, the electrical coefficient of performance (COP) showed a very high average of 12, while the measured thermal COP during the same period was, on average, 0.6.
By 2050, Austria’s capital Vienna wants to cover half of its heat demand by solar thermal energy, it says in the Seven Energy Assumptions (Sieben Energiethesen) presentation, which was held by Bernd Vogl at the beginning of October. The photo shows the panel discussion during which Vogl, who is Head of the city’s Department for Energy Planning, MA 20, presented his assumptions (see the attached presentation in German) at a side event at the evening before the Fachkongress Energie-Architektur 2014 took place in Vienna.
Since 2006, the Solarzentrum Hamburg (translated as Solar Centre Hamburg) has been in charge of monitoring the city’s large-scale solar thermal plants. In 2013, this monitoring programme covered 77 plants with a total aperture area of 6,612 m². In December 2015, Solarzentrum Hamburg’s centralised control will end, after monitoring the last batch of systems which started their two years in the programme by the end of 2013. The two attached presentations in German summarise the 2012 and 2013 monitoring results.
Greek manufacturer Nobel Xilinakis moved its solar water heater production to the Elin Pelin industrial park in the Sofia region of Bulgaria. The relocation had already been completed at the end of 2013, but became public only through the current World Map of the Solar Thermal Industry, which was published in the October issue of international magazine Sun & Wind Energy. All other Greek manufacturers are still producing in Greece. The chart shows part of the European Map on flat plate collector manufacturers, displaying the Greek companies with their 2013 production output. Prime Laser Tech with the full green circle is an absorber manufacturer.
Source: solrico / Sun & Wind Energy
The UK has two Renewable Heat Incentives (RHI) that assist solar thermal. The non-domestic variant (non-dRHI) has operated since November 2011. The variant for households (dRHI) has operated since April 2014. Whereas the share of solar thermal applications within the non-DRHI is still low with 3 % (left chart), every fifth new domestic renewable heating system contains a solar water heater (right chart). For solar thermal, the non-dRHI currently pays 0.10 GBP/kWh for 20 years and the dRHI currently pays the end-user tariff at a rate of 0.192 Pound Sterling (GBP)/kWh for 7 years. Both rates will be annually adjusted for inflation through the payment period. The pie charts show the numbers of accreditations of non-dRHI and dRHI technologies.
Source: Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (Ofgem)
Massachusetts has one of the best solar thermal rebate schemes in the US and the subsidy levels were raised again in September 2014. Since then, commercial systems have been rebated with a maximum of USD 100,000 instead of USD 50,000, which was the previous limit, and there is a new USD 500 subsidy for residential systems to help install a metering system. Since February 2014, owners of residential solar water heaters have also been able to claim 40 % of the investment costs (previously: 25 %) or USD 4,500 (previously: USD 3,500), whichever is less. Public or non-profit investors even receive a 65 % rebate or USD 100,000. “We profit a lot from the Commonwealth Solar Hot Water programme,” explains Bruce Dike, Owner of system supplier and installation company New England Solar Hot Water (NESHW).
Norwegian collector manufacturer Aventa and the University of Oslo’s Department of Physics jointly hosted two meetings in the middle of October: The meeting of Task 39 (Polymeric Materials for Solar Thermal Applications) of the International Energy Agency’s Solar Heating and Cooling programme (IEA SHC), as well as the meeting of the EU’s SCOOP (Solar Collectors made Of Polymers) project. Both research programmes focus on the use of polymeric materials in solar thermal applications and are headed by Michael Köhl, researcher at the German Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Fraunhofer ISE. The photo shows the attendants of the research meeting while they were visiting Stenbråtlia: Architect Hans Dahl (middle), Prof John Rekstad, CEO of Aventa (far left) and Dr Michaela Meir, Head of R&D at Aventa (far right). Stenbråtlia consists of 34 terraced houses built according to the so-called passive house standard and equipped with roof-integrated polymer collectors from Aventa.
In July 2014, the Barcelona City Council approved a EUR 11.3 million subsidy scheme for rooftop renovation and green roofs development (see the attached flyer), including incentives for the installation of solar thermal technologies. Applications will be accepted until 31 December 2014. With the scheme, the council expects to reach at least 5,100 households or 0.8 % of the city’s entire housing stock.