New export-orientated collector and tank factory in Turkey

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 21, 2018
Bural Solar 1Collector and tank producer Bural Solar, founded in 2015, showed its product range at this year’s Mostra Convegno, an international trade fair in Milan, Italy, Mid March. The founder of the company, Hakan Alas, has been working in the solar thermal industry for 20 years. The export-focused business, based in Kayseri, central Turkey, started producing tanks and collectors in 2016. Mostra Convegno, which featured around 2,000 exhibitors, attracted more than 155,000 people, with every forth attendee coming from outside the country. It is 2018’s largest show about heating, ventilation, air conditioning and energy in Europe. 
Photo: Bural Solar

World’s largest flat plate collector manufacturers in 2017

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 19, 2018
The 2017 ranking of the world’s largest flat plate collector producers clearly shows the market dominance of Chinese companies. Even second-ranked Greenonetec, an Austrian collector manufacturer, is now majority-owned by the Chinese-based Haier Group. The corporation acquired 51 % of the manufacturer’s shares on 18 May 2017. The largest European flat plate collector producer was heating technology supplier Bosch Thermotechnik, although it remained at a certain distance from the top four. Business at Bosch Thermotechnik suffered from declining solar hot water markets in Germany (-16 %) and Brazil (-18 %). Nearly all the companies outside Germany increased production last year.
Source: Data supplied by manufacturers

Solar thermal and biomass – a winning solution for district heating

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 18, 2018
Photo: Riccardo BattistiBiomass may be cheap and carbon-neutral, but a solar upgrade of biomass-fired district heating could further improve efficiency and reduce local emissions. For example, solar heat helps avoid having to start up and shut down wood-chip boilers or operate them at partial load. It can even replace backup fossil fuel systems, which provide district heating networks with energy in summer. During a December 2017 webinar, held as part of the Horizon 2020 project SDHp2m…From Policy to Market, experts from Sweden and Austria showed promising case studies for a clever combination of biomass and solar thermal in district heating.
Photo: Riccardo Battisti

Financial support for concentrating solar systems extended until 2020

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 14, 2018
Photo: HoneywellThe “order” published by the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy on 26 February 2018 put an end to the uncertainty which had pervaded the industry. In the 2-page document, the ministry pledged to continue its investment subsidy programme for concentrating solar thermal systems. The target until March 2020 is 90,000 m² of collector area. The financial year 2017 to 2018, during which 20,000 m² were planned to be subsidised, is almost over.
Photo: Honeywell

Molten salt storage 33 times cheaper than lithium-ion batteries

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 12, 2018
Cost-effective energy storage is key to transitioning to a low-carbon society. Energy can be stored in the form of heat or electricity. A popular storage method for high-temperature thermal applications is a molten salt tank. Fact sheets created by the German Energy Storage Association, or BVES for short, show that molten salt tanks are around 33 times less expensive than electric batteries when it comes to storing a kilowatt-hour in them. 
Image: Frenell

Flat plate collector sales in China reach a record 6 million m2 in 2017

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 10, 2018
2017 saw again an increase in flat plate collector area in China. Newly installed flat plate collector area rose by 13 %, whereas vacuum tube collector area declined by 9 % (see the table at the end of this article). Estimates by CSTIF, the Chinese Solar Thermal Industry Federation, put the size of the 2017 flat plate collector market at 6.03 million m2 (4,221 MWth). Jinheng Solar, a flat plate collector manufacturer based in Dezhou in Shandong province, responded to the positive development by expanding production capacity last year. The photo shows the company’s new automated production lines. 
Photo: BTE Solar / Jinheng Solar

Spain’s 2017 figures show increase in collector production despite declining market

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 6, 2018
2017 saw the Spanish solar thermal market dropping by 5 % to 201,505 m2, or 141 MWth, but surpassing 4 million m2 overall, totalling 4,106,195 m2, or 2.87 GWth. The main reason for the downward trend had been the poor showing of regional support schemes, Spain’s solar thermal industry federation, ASIT, said. Still, economic growth is bolstering the construction sector, and a rising number of newbuilds might put the market back on track this year. In addition, the collector industry showed a 33 % increase, to 198,525 m2, in 2017. Most of the amount, 63 % to be precise, was exported.
Source: ASIT

India: Flat plates up, concentrating technologies down

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 1, 2018
Source: Jaideep MalaviyaIn 2017, India’s solar thermal market shifted heavily in favour of flat plate collectors, with systems based on concentrating technologies losing ground. The chart shows the annually installed flat plate collector area to have more than doubled last year compared to 2016. It went from 150,476 m² (105 MWth) to 397,286 m² (278 MWth) an increase by 164 %. Installation figures for solar water heaters based on imported vacuum tubes rose by 7 % to 1,120,963 m² (785 MWth). Concentrating collector sales, on the other hand, only added 5,450 m² to the total, a much lower value than the 26,040 m² in 2016. The reference period for the annual statistics was changed in 2016. It is now the calendar year, whereas it used to be the Indian financial year, which runs from 1 April to 31 March the following year.
Source: Jaideep Malaviya

Solar district heating on the Roof of the World

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 27, 2018
Photo: Task 55A contract to set up a solar district heating network in Langkazi county in Tibet has been awarded to Arcon-Sunmark Large-Scale Solar Systems. The Chinese-Danish joint venture signed an agreement with the local government of the autonomous region of Tibet. The system should provide solar district heating for 82,600 m² of floor area and meet 90 % of the yearly space heating demand in Langkazi, the town sharing its name with the county. The system, planned to be set up by November, will consist of a 22,000 m² collector field, 15,000 m³ of pit storage and a 3-MW electric boiler. The sponsor of the pilot project is China’s central government.
Photo: Task 55

Sonnenkraft, Holter and Tisun – the changing face of Austria’s industry

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 26, 2018
Photo: Thomas PirkerTwo strategic decisions taken by Austrian-based supplier Sonnenkraft in early 2018 have strengthened its position on the market. First, it secured an exclusive national distribution agreement with Holter, an Austrian wholesaler of heating equipment. Installers of Sonnenkraft equipment can now order products and systems on digital sales portal Holter online as opposed to getting them directly from the company. Second, on 4 December 2017, the supplier acquired the remaining 49 % stake in Austrian collector manufacturer Tisun, a competitor from which it had already purchased 51 % of the shares in May 2017. On 5 February 2018, the new owner asked for Tisun to be put into administration and an insolvency practitioner is now leading the restructuring effort. 
Photo: Thomas Pirker