The first and so far unique solar district heating plant in Italy completed its first year in operation in mid-May this year. According to metering by the operator of the 990 m² collector field, utility Varese Risorse, output was significantly higher than expected. The chart shows the total output measured over almost 12 months: It was 13 % higher than the target figure. The solar district heating plant was developed and installed by a newly founded Italian company, SDH Energy, which also guaranteed the solar yield (red line).
On 11 May, construction work started on a new 2,230 m2 ground-mounted collector array (2,090 m2 of aperture area) in the city of Chemnitz. The project is said to be completed within about a month, and the plant is scheduled to come into operation a few weeks later. The collector field is expected to supply almost 5 % of the heat provided by the new district heating grid for the Brühl housing development near the city centre.
The IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (IEA SHC) broadens its sponsor network. The most recent members are the International Solar Energy Society (ISES), headquartered in Germany, and the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD) based in Qatar. ISES joined as a Sponsor in 2016 and GORD already in 2015. “We welcome the engagement of ISES and GORD in the IEA SHC Programme,“ says Ken Guthrie, Chairman of IEA SHC. “ISES represents an extensive network of solar thermal professionals from around the world and GORD opens the doors to the Gulf States – potential future markets for solar cooling“.
Armenia, a small country in South Caucasus, is home to an innovative financing scheme for solar thermal systems and other energy efficiency measures. In 2014, Armenian ACBA Leasing launched the Green Leasing programme for small and medium enterprises from any industry. According to an article published on 24 March 2016 on Armenian news website news.am, Green Leasing had already helped fund several solar thermal systems for different customers, such as seven hotels, four catering businesses and more than 20 service companies. One of the most well-known customers was the Tufenkian Hotel in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital: The roof installation of 1,140 vacuum tubes was done in December last year (see photo).
The organiser of the two day conference Solar Thermal Energy for Europe 2020 is inviting stakeholders from the industry and solar heating and cooling researchers to Brussels, Belgium, on 24 and 25 May to offer them first-hand information on Horizon 2020 calls, an exchange of ideas and experiences and a venue for finding soon-to-be project partners. The European Solar Thermal Technology Platform (ESTTP) of the Innovation Platform on Renewable Heating and Cooling (RHC) concludes with a workshop on the Price Reduction of Solar Thermal Systems. The one-and-a-half hour session will be organised by the researchers of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme’s Task 54, which goes by the same name as the workshop.
Piyush Goyal, Indian Minister of State for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, awarded prizes to 102 institutions, companies and agencies for their achievements in high-temperature solar process heat and cooking. The photo shows the minister calling on the manufacturers to share their innovative ideas and make India a unique place for the demonstration of solar process heating technologies. The Concentrated Solar Technology Excellence Awards 2016 ceremony was organised by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in cooperation with the GEF-UNDP programme for concentrating solar thermal and took place in New Delhi on 29 April 2016. This was the first time in the history of India’s solar thermal industry that so many awards were presented at only one event. Additionally, 37 projects from all over the country received sanction letters for the MNRE capital subsidy and GEF-UNDP support scheme.
During the first quarter of 2016, solar thermal suppliers in Germany sold around 3 % more systems than they did over the same period last year. This is indeed good news after 2015 turned out to be another disappointing year with a 10 % drop in sales, adding only 805,000 m² (563 MWth) of newly installed collector area. The other good news is that subsidies in Germany have never been as attractive as they are now. It is the reason why the two German solar and heating associations, BSW Solar and BDH, launched the Solar Heating – it always pays off (Sonnige Heizung - immer im Plus) campaign, as announced in a press release in the middle of April – at the same time that the Solar Thermal Energy Symposium took place in Bad Staffelstein. The symposium is Germany’s major annual industry conference on the topic and is organised by the East-Bavarian Institute for Technology Transfer, OTTI. This year, the three-day conference was attended by around 250 solar thermal experts from research and industry.
The Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC) has just finished a market survey on the newly installed collector area per collector type over recent years. The newly added area in 2015 was 53,976 m² with a slightly higher share of vacuum tubes, which went up from 54 % in 2012 to 60 % last year (see chart on the left). After two years of decline, market volume again increased in 2015 by 2.4 %. “The study considered all delayed applications as well as market projections based on data received from banks and suppliers,” Rani Al Achkar, Senior Programmes Engineer at the LCEC, said.
The latest Portuguese incentive scheme for solar thermal energy proved to be a major failure: Launched by the national Energy Efficiency Fund (EEF) in May 2015, the call to support the restoration of solar thermal systems installed before 2005 received only four applications in the end. Additionally, 2015 market performance was still far from desirable, and the downward trend in sales continues. APISOLAR’s figures show a newly installed area of 46,134 m² (32 MWth), a 9 % decrease compared to the previous year.
During COP21 in Paris last December, 1,000 mayors and local leaders pledged themselves to a 100 % renewable future of their municipalities by 2050. The final declaration from 4 December 2015 reads (see the attached document): “We support ambitious long-term climate goals such as a transition to 100 % renewable energy in our communities, or an 80 % greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2050.” This crucial political statement gives new impetus to the international research task Solar Energy in Urban Planning (Task 51), which is part of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme. The main objective of the task headed by Maria Wall, Swedish professor at the Energy and Building Design department of Lund University, is to provide urban planners, authorities and architects with the means of designing urban areas that will enable the integration of active and passive solar energy solutions which can cover a large share of the energy demand. The researchers organised two workshops in Stockholm in March to discuss with representatives from public bodies how to deal with the challenges of interdisciplinary planning processes when trying to retain the aesthetic quality of buildings of cultural and historic significance.
Illustration: Ida Brogren, courtesy of Borås Municipality