Graz, the capital of one of Austria’s federal states, Styria, and a city with a population of 276,000, is planning to increase the share of solar thermal in its district heating grid by 20 %. The regional utility Energie Steiermark and the Austrian turnkey provider S.O.L.I.D. agreed in June to carry out a feasibility study for a collector field of up to 500 MWth with a matching seasonal storage. The proof-of-concept study will be a joint project of regional energy providers, S.O.L.I.D. and outside specialists. The photo shows the four collector fields with a total of 7,400 m2 partially belonging to the AEVG, the municipal waste disposal company in Graz, operating since 2007, and to Energie Steiermark, operating since 2014.
The interest in technology and market research on the solar heating and cooling sector is growing. The number of countries participating in the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (SHC) increased significantly over the last two years from 20 to 25 nations. One of the most recent entries was Turkey in 2014, represented by GÜNDER, the Turkish Section of the International Solar Energy Society (ISES). Turkey is the second-largest market after China regarding new solar thermal installations and a gateway to the MENA region, SHC chairman Ken Guthrie praised the new member in a press release this February. Large-scale installations in prisons, hotels and social housing projects are gaining in volume (see photos). The majority of the 20 key solar thermal markets worldwide are now members of the IEA SHC except for India, Brazil, USA, Israel, Greece, Japan and Poland.
The work of the Global Solar Certification (GSC) Network is expected to continue within the framework of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (SHC). The Executive Committee of the IEA SHC approved the set-up of a task definition workshop in Paris on 7 October 2015, in order to establish a new task under the title International Standards & Global Certification. “Collector and system manufacturers selling products in several countries, as well as representatives of certification bodies, test labs and inspectors from all around the world are invited to join the meeting in Paris and become members of the international research community discussing the harmonisation of standards and certification schemes worldwide,” explains Jan Erik Nielsen, Manager of the GSC Network and initiator of the new task. Other groups which could benefit from the new two-year task are stakeholders and public authorities in countries which do not have standards in place yet or which employ old ones. The network plans to develop guidelines for them on how to correctly use the international standards and to offer training materials and assistance. The photo shows the expert group during the first GSC Network meeting in Spain in April 2014.
Photo: GSC Network
Over 40 % of primary energy use and 24 % of greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to global energy use in buildings so architects and builders are being posed the challenge of creating highly energy-efficient structures. One vision promoted by stakeholders in many countries worldwide is Net Zero Energy Buildings (NetZEBs). To provide an analysis of the market potential and the actions required for a market uptake of this architectural design approach, the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme published a position paper entitled SHC Net Zero Energy Solar Buildings in June. The 10-page summary is based on the insights of 82 experts from 19 countries, who have been conducting research within a joint IEA SHC Task 40 and Annex 52 of the Energy in Buildings and Communities Programme (EBCP) over several years (see the attached document). The photos show three French NetZEBs: a university research building on the tropical Island of La Reunion, an office building in Paris and a school in the city of Poitou‐Charentes.
Source: SHC Task 40/EBC Annex 42, A review of 30 NetZEB case studies worldwide
Dai Yanjun is among the key solar cooling researchers in China. In cooperation with the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC) Programme, the professor with more than 15 years of experience in solar cooling research at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) organised the Solar Cooling Week in Shanghai in March. Since 2005, he is Professor at the Institute of Refrigeration and Cryogenics and sees the most promising research being done in the field of thermally driven chillers which fit to standard flat plate and vacuum tube collectors on the market. He also participates in the development of solutions for areas with high humidity.
The European Solar Thermal Industry Federation is expanding its services in policy advocacy and communication. In October 2014, the Brussels-based association set up a new information tool for members called ESTIF Policy Briefing, which is a regular newsletter gathering links to the most recent news from the EU commission and other international organisations relevant to the solar heating and cooling sector. In July, ESTIF started a new series of Webmeetings with national trade associations in form of webinars. During the first online meeting, ESTIF´s policy officer, Stefano Lambertucci, informed the association representatives about major policy topics from the European Commission and suggested actions at national level. Lambertucci joined ESTIF in 2014 after previous jobs in the Permanent Representation of Italy and in the European Commission. He graduated in International Relations and created and manages the new policy communication tools, such as the ESTIF Twitter account and the Policy Briefing newsletter.
The sixth invitation to tender for large-scale solar thermal systems in Austria is still accepting applications until 24 September. The Austrian Climate and Energy Fund has again allocated a budget of EUR 5.9 million for installing collector fields of between 100 and 2,000 m2 for process heat, district heating, solar cooling, systems with high solar coverage above 20 % in trade and business and innovative technologies. The subsidy covers 40 % of the additional, environmentally relevant costs of the installation and grants a 5 % bonus for small and medium enterprises. As in the past, applicants must consult with experts from one of the three selected Austrian research institutes before submitting their proposal. Over the first five years, the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund spent EUR 17,258,324 on 163 projects. The pie chart shows the distribution of the 163 approved projects broken down by application.
Figure: Austrian Climate and Energy Fund
In 2006, Arizona's utility regulators at the Corporation Commission approved the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) stipulating that all utilities are to generate 15 % of their energy by renewable sources by 2025. This gave a push to solar water heating, because the utilities subsidised solar water heaters whenever they offset electric water heaters. In 2011, US-based consultancy GTM Research placed Arizona at the pole position – before Hawaii – in the ranking of the states with the highest number of installed solar water heaters (see chart). But then PV became more popular and led to a drastically reduced demand for solar thermal systems. In 2016, the state’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service (APS), will even let the incentives for solar thermal run out, as their renewable target has already been reached.
Source: GTM Research
The Brazilian market for solar collectors grew by 4.5 % in 2014, according to numbers published by DASOL, the Solar Heating Department of the Brazilian Association of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, Ventilation and Heating, ABRAVA, in early July 2015 (see the attached pdf). In total, DASOL reports 1.44 million m2 of newly installed glazed and unglazed collector area throughout the year. The glazed market segment grew by 5.3 %, a little more than the unglazed segment with 4.6 %. After two years of double-digit growth rates, this is a rather small increase owed to the overall economic slowdown. The share of vacuum tube collectors remains marginal, accounting for no more than 1.1 % of total sales.
Source: DASOL / ABRAVA
Direct steam production, 35,000 litres of diesel saved per year and the advantage of the Italian incentive scheme for renewable heat: All these favourable conditions allowed a small dairy in Sardinia to choose a concentrated solar thermal plant with Fresnel collectors for generating 200 °C steam. The steam is used to supply heat to the industrial processes for cheese production. The investment of EUR 400,000 will have a payback period of about 4 years.