Solar thermal process heat is economically viable in many cases in Germany if it replaces heat from gas or oil boilers, thanks to a 50 % subsidy by the German Federal Office of Economics and Export Control, BAFA. But solar process heat cannot compete with combined heat and power (CHP) plants, because the electricity production saves the user so much money that the heat is almost for free. This is one of the key findings of a study commissioned by the German solar industry association BSW Solar and carried out by German engineering and consulting firm Fichtner and the German Institute decentralised Energy Technologies (IdE). The study, which is not published yet, was presented at the conference Forum Solarpraxis in Berlin, Germany, in November.
After record-high growth in 2011 and 2012, the Polish solar thermal market will most probably only keep the market volume of last year - or even show a small reduction in 2013. This is the prediction that the Polish Institute for Renewable Energy, IEO, reported to the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) for its annual General Assembly at the end of November.
The Ukrainian solar thermal market is extremely price-sensitive. Whereas importers of Chinese vacuum tube collectors have increased their annual sales significantly, the demand for high-quality solar collectors is stagnating. This is one of the results of the annual ISOL Navigator survey by German agency solrico and the follow-up interviews with local market players. Single-family houses and the tourism sector have the highest share in the sales of the companies that participated in the survey (see the chart on the left). Solar thermal systems for multi-family houses will gain importance, as already every fifth company considers it the fastest-growing segment in the Ukraine. After all, the industry complains that most support mechanisms will not be effective because of the high level of corruption across the country.
The third annual General Assembly of the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) under the presidency of Robin Welling took place in Berlin at the end of November after an invitation by the German solar industry association BSW Solar. In an interview with solarthermalworld.org, Welling describes the future challenges of the sector and analyses the difficult market situation in Europe. The photo shows the Kick-off meeting of new joined working group ESTESC in Berlin on the day before the General Assembly.
Four major solar and heating associations in Europe jointly kicked off the ESTESC working group in Berlin at the end of November. ESTESC stands for European Solar Thermal Energy Standardisation & Certification. The four associations are the two Brussels-based associations European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) and the Association of the European Heating Industry (EHI), as well as German associations BSW Solar and the Federal Industrial Association of Germany - House, Energy and Environmental Technology, BDH. All members of the four organisations have been invited to become active participants of a number of subgroups within the ESTECS working group. Christian Stadler, Technical Head at Austrian company General Solar Systems, was elected Chair of the ESTESC for the next three years. He started his career in the solar thermal industry in 1991 and worked in leading positions at 4 different collector manufacturers. Since 2008, he has been responsible for product management, development and strategic sourcing at General Solar Systems with its major brand Sonnenkraft.
Photo: General Solar Systems
In the middle of October, the members of the IEA SHC Task 49 on solar process heat met in Évora, Portugal, to discuss, among other things, the first version of the integration guidelines for solar process heat systems. They are part of the design guidelines - one of the main goals of the Task. According to Christoph Brunner, the Task’s members plan to publish the integration guidelines in early 2014 after an internal review. Brunner is Operating Agent of Task 49 and Head of the Department of Industrial Processes and Energy Systems at the Austrian institute AEE Intec.
Figure: AEE Intec
Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Freiburg, Germany, have just published a comprehensive study on how to reduce energy-related CO2 emissions in Germany in the long term. The focus of the 46-page study entitled “Energiesystem Deutschland 2050” (roughly translated as: Germany's Energy Sector in 2050) was to develop a scenario in which CO2 emissions could be reduced by 80 % in 2050 compared to 1990 at the lowest possible costs. The study, which is based on a sophisticated calculation model, covers all application areas, including mobility, industry and trade, thereby extending upon the latest study from the end of 2012. The more complex algorithm is leading the institute to conclude that after restructuring the German energy sector, the national economy will keep the total annual costs it has today. The pie chart shows that in the scenario, solar thermal technology will cover around 20 % of the low-temperature heat demand in Germany.
Figure: Fraunhofer ISE
Swiss tank manufacturer Jenni Energietechnik is about to complete its new production line for large solar tanks in the Swiss town of Oberburg. The company invested Swiss Franc (CHF) 14 million in machinery and a four-storey building. The first tanks are said to leave the factory at the beginning of 2014. The expansion already started in the second half of 2011. Jenni plans to use the new production line to manufacture tanks between 700 litres and 200 m³. The photo shows the new multi-coil cutting machine that can process steel coils with a thickness of up to 6 mm. So far, the old line has only been able to cut steel coils of up to 3 mm. Thicker sheets had to be cut and transported to Oberburg from another company.
Photo: Jenni Energietechnik
Many Indian regions suffer from bad water quality: More than 75% of the country has moderately hard to very hard water. Chloride levels are also high in specific areas when water is obtained from boreholes. The “desired” legal chloride limit for drinking water is 0.25 g/litre, but is allowed to increase to 1 g /litre. As a result, solar thermal storage tanks gradually corrode and tend to develop leaks. Statistics obtained from the national Helpline show that over 70% of product-related complaints are about leakages in storage tanks. The photo shows a corroded extremely scaled hot water tank.
Photo: Jaideep Malaviya