Termosolar Panama Initiative
 Commercial solar heat market in Panama starts moving

Commercial solar heat market in Panama starts moving

The Termosolar Panamá initiative is bearing its first fruits. Three large pumped solar systems in the public health sector and two solar industrial heat plants started operation in the last weeks in Panama. All these installations were planned and executed by local contractors who had taken part in training programmes offered by Termosolar Panamá. The initiative started in July 2018 with the aim of developing the solar thermal market in Panama, offering technical training, supporting development of standards and test facilities, carrying out a marketing and advertising campaign for solar heat usage in a wide range of applications and subsiding the construction of ten demonstration systems totalling 430 m2. The photo shows one of the demonstrators at the public hospital San Miguel Arcángel.
Photo: Termosolar Panamá

The three largest hospitals – San Miguel Arcángel, Luis Chicho Fábrega and José Domingo de Obaldía – profited from 100 % subsidised solar water heater systems. “These three installations are the first of their kind in Panama”, confirmed Luis Navntoft from the United Nations Environment Programme, who is senior advisor for the execution of Termosolar Panamá. “The fact that the larger pumped systems with more than 100 m2 were developed completely by local contractors who had participated in our training shows that local capacities have been established.”

Termosolar Panama Initiative
104 m2 of collectors have been supplying hot water to José Domingo de Obaldía Hospital since November 2022. Photo: Termosolar Panamá

Before the Termosolar Panamá initiative, solar thermal installations were isolated projects for a very small segment of the population. The initiative has created a steadily growing solar thermal market in the Central-American country. Since its start in 2018, solar collectors totalling 339 m2 have been installed with private funds. In these cases, the initiative supported the design and the development of the projects.

First SHIP plants in Panama

Among the ten demonstration plants are two industrial heat systems. One plant with 210 m2 is installed at Avícola Melo, a poultry processing facility. The other system of 60 m2 is installed at the company Cocina Pio Pio, providing hot water for pre-cooking of frozen food. Both projects were assessed and designed by Termosolar Panamá.

“Being the first SHIP projects in Panama, everybody doubted the results. Now that the systems are working as expected and results can be measured, the message is spreading fast and requests from potential clients are reaching the contractors every day”, observed Navntoft from UNEP. “These projects have shown that private investment in solar heat is an excellent technological choice and a good way to save money as well as protecting our planet.”

ClientSan Miguel Arcángel HospitalLuis Chicho Fábrega HospitalJosé Domingo de Obaldía Hospital Avicola MeloCocina Central Pio Pio
Collector size101 m2186 m2104 m2210 m264 m2
Collector typeFlat-plate collectorsFlat-plate collectorsFlat-plate collectorsFlat-plate collectorsFlat-plate collectors
Manufacturer of collectorsChromagenModulo solarModulo solarModulo solarModulo solar
Storage size6,000 litres8,000 litres6,000 litres20,000 litres5,000 litres
Executing contractorsENSA Servicios and NEO, PanamaPASS, PanamaPASS, PanamaNEO, PanamaNEO, Panama
Commissioning dateAugust 2022November 2022November 2022November 2022November 2022
Investment costs110,000 USD113,000 USD130,000 USD105,000 USD40,000 USD
Amount of subsidy from Termosolar Panamá100%100%100%10%10%
Realised / Planned savingsMeasured 30 gallons of oil per dayEstimated at 25 gallons a day (In study)Estimated at 25 gallons a day(In study)77% of energy demand for water heating for poultry scalding process.90% of energy demand for water heating for pre-cooking

Key figures of recently commissioned commercial systems that were supported by Termosolar Panamá
Source: Termosolar Panamá

Introduction to the three local contractors:

  • The company NEO was founded in 2016, is headquartered in Panama City and focuses on solar installations – photovoltaics and solar thermal,
  • PASS SA is committed to clean energy solutions for commercial customers. PV and solar thermal solutions are part of its portfolio.
  • ENSA Servicios is also committed to clean energy solutions for commercial customers. PV and solar thermal solutions are part of the portfolio, but also electric mobility, telecommunication services and energy efficiency.

Introduction to Termosolar Panamá
The project is funded by the Global Environment Fund, executed by UNEP and managed by the National Energy Secretariat of Panama together with the Panama Environmental Ministry, Banco General and the National Technological University of Panama. The initiative supports the implementation of the national plan to install one million m2 of solar collectors by 2050.

Organisations mentioned in this news article:
Termosolar Panamá: http://www.termosolarpanama.com
NEO: https://www.neodigital.co/index.html
PASS: https://www.ensaservicios.com/
SNE: http://www.energia.gob.pa
MELO: https://grupomelo.com/
MINSA: Panama Health Ministry http://www.minsa.gob.pa

Bärbel Epp

Bärbel Epp is Founder and Director of the German communication and market research agency solrico and editor-in-chief of solarthermalworld.org