The Spanish incentive programmes for solar thermal have become decreasingly generous. Some companies are starting to offer credit lines and alternative schemes to consumers, allowing clients to pay or benefit from solar systems equivalent to their energy saving amount. The business models seem to be successful and may enable solar thermal system suppliers to create a viable non-incentivised market. The photo shows the Pez Espada hotel near Malaga in Andalusia where 60 collectors installed during the former Andalusian incentive scheme, which was halted in June 2015, heat the pool and the domestic hot water. Photo: Sumersol
Standardisation and prefabrication of solar thermal systems remains key to the delivery of high quality, cost-optimised solutions. Solar pumping and refilling stations attached to and insulated with the storage tank have already been standard in residential systems in Central Europe. Current developments from German system supplier Aschoff Solar and Belgium system supplier Sunoptimo show that prefabricated solutions are also possible for large-scale, commercial systems between 50 m² and 2,000 m² of collector area. Both companies use containers equipped with a storage tank and all other hydraulic components. The photo shows the most current installation of Aschoff Solar at the Severin Sea Lodge in Mombasa, Kenya. The 260 m² vacuum tube installation on the roof provides hot water for the guest and staff lodges, with one container including the storage tank and the hydraulic.
The calendar of events on solarthermalworld.org shows around 60 events relevant to the solar heating and cooling sector. This article will highlight some of the upcoming conferences dedicated to the sector in the first half of 2016. If not mentioned otherwise, the conference language of the listed events will be English. Photo: Stephanie Banse
After a politically unstable last quarter of 2015, Portugal’s path for the next years seems to be finally set. The new socialist government, led by António Costa, took office by the end of November and brought back the old promise of supporting renewable energy sources. At least, this is what the government programme shows, the intention to encourage solar thermal use. The industry looks slightly more optimistic into 2016. According to the ISOL Index survey carried out in September 2015, more than a third of the participating 13 solar thermal system suppliers in Portugal expect a growing market, while 39 % expect a stable one this year.
Last December, the Spanish Advanced Technology Center for Renewable Energies, CTAER, and the Solar Concentra forum in Spain released a study which evaluated the potential of medium- and low-temperature solar thermal concentration technologies across Spain (between 100 and 400 °C). The study, entitled Applications and market potential of medium-temperature concentrating solar power technologies in Spain, concludes that these technologies have already been cost-competitive with some alternatives, such as oil and gas, in the industrial and residential segments, and it provides some recommendations to promote this promising market. The photo shows one of the very few solar process heat installations in Spain with concentrating technology. It is a pilot plant with a Fresnel collector which has been supplying the animal feed production unit of Spanish company Grasas del Guadalquivir in Cordoba since in March 2015.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) wants to strengthen its work supporting the energy transformation to a safe and sustainable low-carbon energy system. A key asset of the IEA is its global network of over 6,000 energy technology researchers and experts working in the 39 Technology Collaboration Programmes, TCPs, (former Implementation Agreements) on a broad range of energy subjects. "We are on the verge of a new era of energy system transformation and innovation", said Alicia Mignone, Chair of IEA Committee on Energy Research and Technology (CERT) during a stakeholder meeting in September 2015 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the TCPs. "We need to take full opportunity of these amazing instruments that are the IEA TCPs to ensure that the IEA remains at the forefront of global energy technology analysis." The Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (IEA SHC) is one of the 10 renewable TCPs. There are TCPs as well in the field of Fusion Power, Fossil Fuels and Energy End-Use Technologies (see attached pdf with a full list of TCP topics). The photo shows the Executive Committee of IEA SHC during is meeting in December 2015 in Istanbul. Photo: IEA SHC
Within only two months, the German Federal Environment Minister, Barbara Hendriks, awarded two solar thermal companies with a high-level prize. On 23 November 2015, Austrian polymer collector developer Sunlumo received the German Federal Ecodesign Award in the category Product (left). On 21 January 2016, German Fresnel collector system supplier Industrial Solar was awarded with the German Innovation Prize for Climate and Environment (IKU) in the category Technology Transfer (right). These honours show the high innovative potential of the solar thermal industry even in times of crisis as is happening currently, with the German and Austrian solar thermal market shrinking year after year. Photos: Sunlumo, Christian Kruppa for Industrial Solar
ARS Glasstech based in Gujarat state in western India has become the first domestic glass mirror manufacturer for concentrating solar thermal collectors. So far, Indian manufacturers of dish collectors had been dependent on mirror imports for their high-temperature applications. The unique selling point of ARS Glasstech is its delivery of mirrors in the small sizes required to set up concentrating dishes typically used in India. Glass is cut by CNC glass-cutting machines and sealed at the sides. The photo shows the first retrofit project with ARS mirrors, during which 1,250 m2 of mirror surface area of the solar thermal air-conditioning system were replaced at Kailash Cancer Hospital in Gujarat. The retrofit had the financial support of the GEF-UNDP CSH PROJECT.
After several quickly receding waves of smart home hypes, the current trend to link devices in residential homes seems comparably stable. Drivers of the development are energy, security and comfort. Although new products and services for smart homes focus on electricity usage, Uwe Trenkner is convinced that modern communication technologies are another important factor for solar heating. The consultant from Brussels, Belgium, was co-author of the Technical Study Report on Measuring, Remote Monitoring and Remote Controlling for Solar Thermal Systems, which was published at the end of last year (see the attached document). Solarthermalworld.orginterviewed the expert during the Solar Heating and Cooling Conference (SHC2015) in Istanbul, Turkey, in December 2015.
With a solar radiation of up to 2,550 kWh/m², Saudi Arabia seems destined to be a frequent user of solar thermal energy. Solar heating and cooling, however, are not very common in the Kingdom. A new housing programme launched by the government is now adding solar water heating to the list of eligible technologies, albeit companies selling to Saudi Arabia have so far only reported a small number of prestigious projects. The photo shows a solar cooling demonstration plant at the headquarters of the kingdom’s oil company, Aramco, in Dhahran. The system, which came into operation in November 2014, offers high-vacuum flat MT-Power panels by Swiss manufacturer TVP Solar and runs a double-effect absorption chiller with 180 °C to produce cold air for Saudi Aramco's Al-Munirah Community Library. Still, solar thermal energy seems to remain a niche market in the eyes of the government, which has just published a new energy strategy for the coming years – the policy document primarily mentions PV, CSP and nuclear energy to offset the rising domestic consumption of the nation’s main export commodity: oil.