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Newsletter May 2021

Europe: Solar district heating on the fast track to success

In five to 10 years, 7 MWth solar heat plants will become a common sight in Europe, according to Christian Stadler, who leads Viessmann’s business unit developing large solar thermal projects. Germany, currently the continent’s number one market for SDH solutions, has grown rapidly of late: Six systems with a combined capacity of 22 MWth were completed across the country in 2020. Another 23 MWth is either in planning or under construction. Stadler believes Germany is five years ahead of other European countries, which will eventually follow the same trajectory.

One of them is Serbia, where a new Renewable Energy Act passed parliament on 19 April. Even before the law was approved, it had attracted considerable interest from stakeholders, as evidenced by the more than 2,000 people attending the First Big Conference on Solar Energy online several days earlier (see photo of the conference’s in-person panel). In one chapter dedicated to heating and cooling, the law calls for the creation of an incentive programme for renewable district heating projects while also giving independent producers the opportunity to supply or sell the clean heat they produce. Supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, (pre)feasibility studies on SDH systems with at least 70 MW
th of total capacity have already been completed or are underway in Serbia. 
Read more: Interview with Christian Stadler
Read more: First Big Conference on Solar Energy in Serbia
Mixed performance of world's largest flat plate producers in 2020
by Bärbel Epp

Last year’s outbreak of Covid-19 reduced sales of most of the largest flat plate collector manufacturers not based in China. Only a small number of non-Chinese businesses saw an increase in sales, the result of a new support policy in Germany. Chinese manufacturers, by contrast, were virtually unaffected by the pandemic.

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Hydrogen-ready – the new buzzword in the heating industry
by Joachim Berner

At the ISH digital, held from 22 to 26 March, "ready" seems to be the heating industry’s new buzzword. Gas condensing boilers are H2-ready, oil heating is future fuel-ready and the sector, as a whole, says it is Green Deal-ready.

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Supply chain maturity and economies of scale drive solar heat costs down
by Bärbel Epp

Europe’s solar thermal industry has achieved quite significant cost reductions since 2014, with economies of scale at the project level helping to drive down costs, Michael Taylor, of IRENA, said at a 9 March webinar titled Cheaper than Electrification: How solar heat will replace oil and gas in the EU industrial sector.

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Improving the efficiency of SDH

Since the end of IEA SHC Task 55, there have been multiple calls for continuing the work of this successful research platform. In response, 44 experts met for a one-day online meeting in March to discuss the content, structure and workplan of a new Task titled Efficient Solar District Heating Systems.

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Water-energy nexus in wastewater management

Solar-powered water treatment can significantly reduce industrial manufacturers’ water and energy footprints and turn municipal water treatment plants into energy distributors. Impressive demonstration systems were presented during an IEA SHC Solar Academy webinar in March.

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How to design an 85 % solar-heated and 100 % solar air-conditioned house

IEA SHC Task 66 Solar Energy Buildings intend to develop and popularise a building standard focused on solar energy as the main energy source for heating, cooling and electricity generation. This sort of holistic approach has yet to become the norm when designing residential energy systems. 

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SBE21 conference spotlights historic NZEBs

The SBE21 Heritage conference in mid-April involved a deep exchange of ideas between researchers, architects and practitioners about how to reduce the energy consumption of historic buildings. The main contributors were the experts of IEA SHC Task – Renovating Historic Buildings Towards Zero Energy.

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