The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is a young, but globally operating intergovernmental organisation. The first general assembly was held only five years ago in April 2011, after a three-year preparation period. Since its founding, IRENA has welcomed 149 member states (see the map), and accession negotiations have been underway for another 27. Since 2014, the organisation has passed a biennial work programme, with the current one covering 2016-2017 (see the attached document). The projected budget for these two years is USD 89.5 million, split among six thematic areas and two administrative ones.
Indian collector manufacturer Inter Solar Systems (ISS) has recently put into operation a solar swimming pool heating system at a private villa in Muscat, the capital of Oman. Local solar thermal dealer Continental Shelf of Solar Tech purchased the 60 m² flat plate collector system from ISS to keep a large private pool inside a villa at comfortable 25 °C all year round. The photo provides a view over the coastal town of Muscat, which is said to be the world’s smallest capital with a population of only 32,000.
Lviv IT Cluster, one of Ukraine´s leading IT businesses, is currently building up a multi-family house for its employees that meets all the requirements for a smart property, including a modern heating system. It offers 72 flats on ten floors and is being built in Lviv, in western Ukraine. The gas condensing boilers for the heating station on the most upper floor will be delivered by German boiler and collector manufacturer Vaillant Group, which is also said to install the 30 collectors on the building’s roof once construction has been completed. The illustration shows a 3D model of the “IT House”, where construction for the 6th floor is underway, as an online webcam shows.
Good news for the Portuguese market: This year’s agenda includes two new schemes to support energy efficiency measures in buildings, and solar thermal has been put into the spotlight. The first programme, Aviso 20 – Edifícios Eficientes 2016 (Efficient Buildings), has already been open to applications since 8 July 2016. Its budget of EUR 1.1 million covers up to 60 % of the cost of efficiency measures, including new solar water heater installations, in existing residential and commercial buildings. The second programme, Casa Eficiente (Efficient Home), is still under development, but the scheme’s much larger budget of EUR 100 million will offer low-interest loans for efficiency measures in the residential sector. Obviously, both programmes are not exclusively solar thermal ones; they also support window replacement or additional insulation.
After Lancaster, Sebastopol and Santa Monica, San Francisco is now the fourth – and the largest – city to mandate the use of solar energy in residential and commercial newbuilds. It also has the first mandate in California which can be complied with by using either solar thermal or photovoltaics. The other three cities stipulated the installation of a PV generator at newly developed premises. The mandate in San Francisco aims at owners of new residential and non-residential buildings who apply for a building permit on or after 1 January 2017. The photo shows the typical multi-storey building structure and density of San Francisco.
Slovakia is the first country from Eastern Europe to join the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (IEA SHC). Since its admission, the small nation of only 5.5 million people has been represented by Artur Bobovnický (photo) from the Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency (SIEA). Bobovnický, who had previously held the job of Commercial Director at Slovakian SEVT, an office supplies business, took on the position of Director of Innovation and International Cooperation at SIEA in June 2014. Shortly thereafter, he was made aware of the great potential of the IEA‘s Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) and successfully convinced the Slovakian government to sponsor membership.
Russian airport operator Basel Aero, which is part of Russian financial conglomerate Basic Elements, is planning additional installations of solar collectors at airports managed by the company in Anapa, Gelendzhik and Krasnodar near the Black Sea, according to a March 2016 press release. The enterprise has devoted special attention to environmental issues: It had already had a solar collector system installed on the roof of the Sochi airport in 2014, before the start of the Olympic Winter Games. The new terminal in Anapa will also be built using energy-saving technologies and eco-friendly materials.
Typically, the number of jobs in the global solar heating and cooling industry is based on general assumptions and fragmentary extrapolations. The authors who publish the two annual studies on these job numbers have tried each year to improve upon the database – with success, although they still end up with different figures. The Solar Heat Worldwide Edition 2016 published by Austrian institute AEE INTEC estimated that 730,000 people had a job related to the manufacturing, installation or maintenance of solar thermal systems in 2014. The study Renewable Energy and Jobs - Annual Review 2016 by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) put the figure at 939,000 in the global solar heating and cooling industry in 2015 – 12 % of the world’s 8.1 million jobs in the renewable sector (find both studies attached).
Solar heating and cooling has not been bankable yet despite various systems confirming expected performance and O&M costs. Project budgets are usually too small and the technology suppliers do not pass the stringent requirements of creditworthiness, which leaves the financial provider with a high-risk scenario. Accordingly, Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) have faced severe financing issues, which slow down the expansion of their business. It is good news to them that two recently launched projects also focus on facilitating the creation of an investment fund for solar thermal ESCO projects: First, there is the Feasibility Study - Energy Contracting Fund, which is jointly coordinated by the German Investment and Development Corporation Bank (DEG) and German SHC turnkey provider Industrial Solar; the second project, TrustEE – enhancing investment conditions for industrial energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, is from the EU and has been coordinatedby Austrian institute AEE INTEC.