With more than 200,000 visitors from 61 countries and 2,482 exhibitors, this year´s ISH trade fair in Frankfurt, Germany, set a new record. The biannual exhibition showed the latest trends in building and heating technologies, including renewable energy applications. During the one-hour press conference of the German heating industry association BDH, the world “solar” was not even mentioned once. Faced with decreasing interest in solar thermal across central Europe, the portfolio of the few exhibitors specialising in the technology included electric heating in one way or another. The photo shows a collector to regenerate boreholes which are connected to heat pump.
Replacing gas with sunshine for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is a cost-effective solution. This is the key message of US-based company Glasspoint, which has mobilised the biggest investment ever in a solar steam-producing unit in Oman. State-owned Petroleum Development Oman is building a concentrating solar thermal collector field called Miraah next to the Amal West oilfield. Once complete, it will generate more than a gigawatt of solar thermal power to drive EOR operations – saving Oman about 5.6 trillion BTUs of natural gas each year.
The California Solar Initiative (CSI) – Thermal Program seems to have stabilised at around 20,000 m² (or around 200,000 ft²) of subsidised collector area per year. Commercial applications dominate the statistics, although there was a spike in the share of residential systems in 2016. The peak in applications for commercial pool heating in 2014 was due to the late addition of this type of system to the state subsidy scheme. It took almost a year before the level of incentives and other requirements were set, so that all the applications piling up over that period had to be processed in 2014. The data in the chart was provided by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and shows the subsidised and installed collector area for each year.
There has been growing demand for Aspiration Energy’s (AE) business of delivering systems that provide solar heat for industrial processes (SHIP). In January 2017, the turnkey SHIP supplier based in India completed a second solar field with 600 m² (180 kWth) of vacuum tube collectors for Harita Seating, which is one of the country’s leading manufacturers of automotive seating systems and part of the USD 7 billion TVS group. The first 600 m² system was commissioned in January 2015. Both fields combined meet around 50 % of the heat demand for degreasing and phosphating processes in Harita’s factory. The photo shows the solar thermal control panel in the production facility; the 3,000-litre solar thermal storage tank can be found on the right.
In July 2013, the small country of Lesotho in southern Africa joined the SOLTRAIN project. Between then and the end of phase II of SOLTRAIN – the Southern African Solar Thermal Training and Demonstration Initiative – in February 2016, training courses were held, demonstration projects realised and awareness campaigns carried out. The Bethel Business and Community Development Centre (BBCDC), a commercial and technical school which is in a remote district of Lesotho and has 125 full-time students, has been the main partner organisation supporting these activities. Two solar water heaters at BBCDC, one thermosiphon and one pumped system, were installed during training courses (see photo). Obviously, this has raised awareness of the technology among all students learning and living at BBCDC, who use the solar-heated water every day. The efforts of the BBCDC won the school the Energy Globe Award Lesotho in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
The use of solar heat is becoming increasingly popular in Belarus, an eastern European country with around 10 million population. Official statistics from the Ministry of Energy put the number of systems installed across the country at 287; their combined collector area, however, has not been recorded. This article presents a selection of the solar thermal systems partly in residential use, but some have also been integrated into the facade of commercial buildings (left photo) as well as educational and healthcare facilities (right). Their collector size ranges from 4 to 100 m2.
Photos: All photos in this news article were provided by the owners of the solar thermal systems
Spain’s solar thermal market experienced a year-on-year drop of 12 % in 2016 and ended up at 212,190 m2 (149 MWth) of newly installed collector area. As in 2015, the main reasons for the contraction were the lack of finished newbuilds and the end of regional incentives, such as the ones in the Spanish region of Andalusia. However, the construction industry is slowly starting to recover and new government incentives may boost the market this year. Additionally, local manufacturers have expanded their export business. All in all, the country’s solar thermal industry generated a turnover of EUR 170 million in 2016 and employed 4,250 people. These and other results can be found in the annual report published by the Spanish solar thermal association ASIT last week (see the attached PDF).
LED technology has greatly changed the face of the lighting market: In just a few years, lighting systems have become twice as efficient and half as expensive. Planners are challenged to keep track of the fast technological developments occurring as they work with clients to find the most cost-effective solutions. In this webinar on Advanced Lighting Solutions for Retrofitting Buildings researchers of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling (IEA SHC) Programme will talk about the potential in lighting retrofit, introduce advanced solutions, and present an interactive electronic source book and toolbox called The lighting Retrofit Adviser. All stakeholders are invited to join the webinar scheduled online for 1.5 hours on Tuesday, 21 March 2017, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Central European Time (time zone includes Berlin, Brussels, and Copenhagen). You can register online.
With Procter & Gamble and Siemens subsidiary Trench, Vicot Solar Technology has two prominent references in China to showcase the successful integration of solar heat into industrial processes. The plant at Trench High Voltage Products (THVP) in Shenyang (see photo) came online in November 2014 and has since been operated by THVP itself. Backed up by an oil heating unit, the system’s parabolic trough collectors with 3,255 m² of aperture area provide heat at 150 °C for processes in the electronics factory and supply the heating systems of the 33,000 m² office and the production facilities in winter.
Huge potential but little implementation so far – this is how one could describe the global situation of Solar Heat for Industrial Processes (SHIP). Although experts acknowledge that process heat shows the greatest potential of all solar heating and cooling applications, the share of SHIP systems in total installed solar thermal capacity has remained below 1 %. To tackle some of the barriers, such as missing standardisation, system costs and reliability, the INSHIP project funded by EU Horizon 2020 was launched in early 2017. It aims to devise a European Common Research and Innovation Agenda (ECRIA) on SHIP within the next four years. The project is coordinated by the German Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE and involves 28 European research institutions from twelve countries.