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.
The newly installed collector area in the Netherlands has not grown by a significant margin since 2011, and it even decreased slightly in 2013 (see the chart on the left). According to the Dutch industry association Holland Solar, this is to be considered a fair outcome, as the number of new residential construction permits has declined in recent years. Residential construction is by far the most important market for solar thermal technology in the country. There have not yet been any statistics on the newly installed collector area in 2014, but considering that the number of building permits was twice as much in 2014 than in the previous year, experts estimate that solar thermal sales will at least have remained at their previous levels. The authors from the German-Dutch Chamber of Commerce, DNHK, see a silver lining for 2015 in a market analysis published in May 2015 in the framework of the German Renewable Energies Export Initiative (see the attached PDF in German).
Source: Central Office for Statistics in the Netherlands, CBS
The solar thermal industry created about 11,400 jobs in Germany in 2013, according to a comprehensive job study called Employment by the renewable sector in Germany. Development and operation, today and tomorrow financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, BMWi, and published by the German Institute for Economic Research, DIW, in March 2015 (see the attached PDF in German). Its authors find that direct and indirect employment in the solar thermal subsector had then diminished by 6.6 % compared to 2012. Only 3.1 % of all jobs created by renewable energies in Germany, e.g., 371,400 jobs, showed a relation to solar heating and cooling. The study is based on two former job studies on the German renewable energy sector in 2006 and 2011. The Working Group on Renewable Energy Statistics, AGEE, which was established in 2004, contributed a large portion of the data.
German research institute Solites has compared different models of solar heat use in district heating networks by focusing on the economic viability of these projects. The study Solar Heat Networks for Baden-Württemberg – Fundamentals. Potentials. Strategies. published at the beginning of July was supported by the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector of Baden-Württemberg, a federal state in the south of Germany (see the attached document in German). The authors of the study analyse seven different generic types of district heating systems which integrate solar thermal, and they come to the conclusion that type 3, 6 and 7, i.e., applications in small rural district heating systems as well as integrations into existing larger urban district heating systems, generate the lowest solar heat costs. On average, heat costs are around 60 EUR/MWh over a period of 25 years, excluding subsidies. In some cases, they even get below 50 EUR/MWh.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way” is the slogan at Sharman Shawls, one of India’s leading garment industry and export companies. Based in Punjab state in northern India, Sharman Shawls uses diesel to meet the hot water requirements for dyeing, bleaching and washing garments. The enterprise’s daily consumption is close to 200,000 litres of water and the processes require almost 1,700 litres of diesel per day. 180 flat plate collectors preheat hot water to 80 °C, saving 82 litres of diesel at 300 days a year. Space constraints have limited the diesel saving per day to 5 %.
The Middle East is a hub for solar energy deployment. Three countries from this region were among the ones with the highest total installed capacity of glazed water collectors in operation per 1,000 inhabitants at the end of 2013: Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan. Israel is the front runner when it comes to building codes. It was the first country worldwide to pass a solar building law – back in 1980. The law stipulates the installation of a solar water heating system for new residential buildings up to a height of 27 m, which is about 8 to 9 floors. This law was extended in September 2012 and now also applies to buildings above 27 m, stipulating the installation of solar water heaters for the first seven floors under the roof.
Italian turnkey system provider Reseda has carried out a research project, called SolarCIP, to investigate the real performance of a number of solar thermal installations after they have been in operation for some years now. From 2007 to 2009, Reseda staff inspected 430 mostly residential hot water systems onsite to analyse the performance and detect common failures. The pie chart shows the overall research results with only 15 % of best practice cases. 10 % of the plants were not operating at all, often because fluid leakage from the pipes or an incorrect expansion vessel size had forced the systems dry.
Austrian heat supplier Energiecomfort is expanding its solar heat services: The company based in Vienna, the capital of Austria, services around 5,000 m² of collector area for 50 different multi-family building projects across the Vienna area. Over the coming weeks, a 1,500 m² collector field for the newly built residential district Waldmühle Rodaun will go into operation, for which Energiecomfort will act as an Energy Service Company to provide the entire heat supply for the around 445 flats built on the grounds of a former cement factory on the outskirts of Vienna. The residents are planned to move in next year, but the solar heat will already be used for screed drying and heating during construction in the coming winter season.
The solar thermal industry is facing a great challenge in entering new commercial solar thermal markets, be it tourism, solar process heat or large solar district heating. It needs new business models to convince commercial customers to use or to invest in solar thermal. A webinar jointly organised by International Solar Energy Society (ISES) and solarthermalworld.org on 23 June 2015 thoroughly analysed the current situation during presentations by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and three turnkey system suppliers: Industrial Solar, Germany, S.O.L.I.D., Austria, and Nextility, USA (find all four presentations attached to this news article). One thing to take away from the webinar was: Financing is a crucial bottleneck for large-scale turnkey system suppliers.
Until recently, the solar water heater (SWH) rebate programme of state-owned power provider Eskom had been a key element in South Africa´s endeavour to cope with continually unstable power supply and become a more environmentally friendly society. Eskom granted refunds to customers replacing conventional geysers in households and commercial buildings with solar thermal ones. The result: 85,000 high-pressure solar water heaters funded by the rebate programme since 2008, according to estimates by the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa (SESSA). The non-governmental organisation representing the local solar thermal industry wrote in its weekly newsletter, Energy Fix – Week 21, that 330,000 low-pressure systems were installed from 2010 until the end of 2012.