Israel: Front runner in Solar Building Code with Strong Impact on Market
Mon, 13 July 2015
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.
Source: Solar Heat Worldwide
“Israel is facing an increase in new buildings; most of them are more than 9 floors,” explains Eddie Bet-Hazavdi, Director of the Department of Energy Conservation within the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources. “So, we will see the impact of the new extended solar building obligation in two to three years’ time.”
No solar, no construction permit – a regulation which has worked very well in Israel since 1980. Many building regulations which came into force in the sunbelt countries, such as South Africa, Namibia, Argentina, India, Brazil or China, followed this model, stipulating a solar hot water system for new buildings. On the other hand, most of the building codes in Europe are technology-neutral, meaning that the construction company can choose between several energy-efficient technologies to fulfil the regulation. This second type of renewable obligation is obviously less effective for solar thermal deployment. The following table lists the countries and the two different types of building code according to the year they came into force.
Came into force in
Countries with national solar obligation
Countries with national, technology-neutral obligation
The 2012 amendment of the Israeli solar building code was initiated by a committee which was established by the government and includes members from the solar thermal industry, who have been calling for an extension of the solar obligation for many years. The sizing of the mandatory solar hot water systems has not changed since 1980 and is fixed at 60-litre tank volume per one-room flat, at least 120 litres for two- or three-room flats and at least 150 litres for larger ones (for more information, please see the table below of the Israeli solar obligation).
Application share in newly installed collector area of 445,730 m² in 2013
The high market penetration of solar systems in Israel also shows an impact on the annual deployment statistics. According to Hazavdi, an average 88 % of the annually installed collector units were replacing existing systems, and only 12 % were new ones between 2010 and 2014. The size of the annual market, however, depends on the source providing the information. Hazavdi assumes that 240,000 solar water heating units are newly installed in Israel annually, at an average size of 2.3 m, which adds up to 529,000 m². Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, ICTAF, reported a 2013 total of 445,730 m² in the Solar Heat Worldwide study – clearly dominated by solar hot water systems for multi-family buildings (see the pie chart above).
Solar building law
To reduce the country’s dependency on imported energy
Date when law came into effect
1980, with an extension in September 2012
Since 1980, the legislation applies to all new buildings with lower than 27 metres, except buildings used for industrial or trade purposes hospitals.
Since September 2012, the extension of the solar obligation also applies to new residential buildings above 27 metres with solar water heaters stipulated for the top 7 floors.
The obligation is defined in terms of daily solar energy output per litre of storage tank capacity: 172 kilojoules for open loop systems, and 192 kilojoules for closed loop systems.
The tank capacity depends on the number of rooms in each residential unit: at least 60 litres for one-room-apartments, at least 120 litres for two- or three-room-apartments, and at least 150 litres for larger ones.
Hotels, guest houses, boarding schools, elderly homes and similar buildings:
In this case the obligation is based on the daily solar output per litre of hot water consumption: 126 for open and 142 for closed loop systems.