China keeps top spot for industrial solar heat
|2017||2018||2019||End-of-year total 2019||2020||End-of-year total 2020|
|No. of commissioned SHIP systems||107||99||86||817||74||At least 891|
|Newly installed collector area [m2]||219,280||55,583||358,641||n/a||130,745||n/a|
|Newly installed solar thermal capacity [MW]||153||39||251||92|
Source: Yearly Solar Payback SHIP supplier surveys 2018 to 2021
At least 891 ship systems were in operation around the globe at the end of 2020. The top markets in 2020 were again China (30 projects), Mexico (16) and Germany (10). Trailing far behind those market leaders were the next two on the list, India and Spain, both of which saw only three new projects put into operation. In China, Linuo Paradigma took the lion’s share of the market, reporting the completion of 22 SHIP projects totalling 83,455 m2. Mark Yan, who works in Linuo Paradigma’s sales department, stated that after lifting the lockdown, the Chinese government set up support programmes in order to stimulate the economy, which helped industrial companies to install more SHIP projects.
By contrast, the SHIP market in Mexico did not end the year on a high note, considering only 16 new projects saw the light of day in 2020, which meant another drop from the 26 and 51 projects installed in 2019 and 2018, respectively. One reason for the decline was the economic and political upheaval the pandemic caused last year, preventing the start-up of multiple projects. The other reason was the new sales strategy by one of Mexico’s foremost SHIP system suppliers, Inventive Power, to appeal to fewer but larger and globally operating companies: “We are satisfied with business development in 2020. We installed large projects, which bring some challenges but also higher revenues,” Managing Director Angel Mejía Santiago wrote in his company’s survey response. Inventive reported that in 2020, it commissioned a 740 m2 parabolic trough plant for textile company Carolina Performance Fabrics and a 180 m2 plant for lubricant and grease producer Schutz.
Meanwhile, the German national support scheme for SHIP plants listed 10 new installations last year, which is in the range of previous years (11 projects in 2019 and 9 in 2018). Nevertheless, it is a figure at the low end of expectations, considering the government began offering investment grants of up to 55 % in 2012. Market observers have said that the small number of applications submitted each year indicates a lack of commitment on the part of the SHIP supply chain in Germany. And because fossil fuel were cheap, manufacturers had no special reason for advancing renewable heat solutions. That could now change following the introduction of a national carbon price for heat consumers at the beginning of this year.
|No. of systems put up in 2019||Collector area added in 2019 [m2]||No. of systems put up in 2020||Collector area added in 2020 [m2]||Average system size in both years [m2 per system]|
Although many solar technology suppliers reported delays in plant construction and commissioning, 2020 saw several multi-megawatt plants come into operation. The five largest plants are shown in the table below. Three of them are used in agriculture – more specifically, in the countryside, where space is usually not an issue. In addition, each plant was installed by another technology supplier, all of which chose the collector technology most suited to their product portfolio.
Size of solar field
Type of collector
G2 Energy, Netherlands
Heating Freesia farm greenhouses
Sanya, Hainan, China
Linuo Paradigma, China
Ganzhou, Tibet, China
Preheat for agricultural drying
Lhasa, Tibet, China
Heating agricultural greenhouses
Process heat for packaging company