There is a distinct difference between the make-up of the German solar process heat segment and the country’s solar thermal market in general and it concerns the type of collectors used. One in four collectors used in solar process heat systems is an air collector, although the technology contributes only around 10 % to the total collector area newly installed each year. The same has been true for vacuum tube systems, which showed a 35 % share in solar process heat installations among approved projects in 2016 – despite an overall market share of only 9 % last year. All figures are based on statistics provided by the University of Kassel’s Institute of Thermal Engineering, which has been in charge of the research accompanying the subsidy scheme on solar process heat under the auspices of Germany’s Market Rebate Programme for Renewable Energies or MAP.
Chart: solrico, source: Institute of Thermal Engineering, University of Kassel
In spring 2015, Germany´s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) introduced a performance-based incentive for solar heating as an alternative to the scheme offering incentives based on collector area. Recently published statistics have shown the new programme to grant higher financial support for about one-third of the currently funded projects. The others still receive funding from the previously established 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.
Finally some good news from Germany, the largest market in Europe, which declined for four years in a row between 2011 and 2014. After a very sluggish first quarter in 2015, demand for solar thermal systems was increasing over the summer months because of the increased subsidy levels of the German Market Rebate Programme for Renewable Energies since April 2015. The number of applications for solar thermal systems in June and July was 31 % higher than in the previous year. The chart shows the applications submitted per month, with the green columns depicting 2014 and the orange columns representing 2015. And there is more good news for the sector: the announced energy label for existing heating boilers.
Source: Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control, BAFA
Over the last two and a half years, the German Market Rebate Programme for Renewable Energies, MAP, has been subsidising half of the net costs associated with solar process heat for industrial and commercial use in Germany. All in all, the administrator of the programme, the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control, BAFA, has received applications for 174 systems, of which 88 have so far been set up by the applicant and subsidised by the programme. “The programme started off well, but now the number of applications is stagnating,” Ralph Baller, Head of the MAP division, says. The University of Kassel’s additional publicity measures, which address planners and installers alike, are hoped to increase the popularity of the subsidy scheme again. The pie chart shows the customer groups of solar process heat among the 174 applications which have been submitted since the programme was launched in August 2012.
On 1 April 2015, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, BMWi, will increase the subsidies for renewable heating systems – solar thermal, biomass boilers and heat pumps – within the German Market Rebate Programme for Renewable Energies, MAP. The main reason for taking this step was that political targets have not been achieved: “The share of renewable energies in Germany’s final energy consumption for heating and cooling has only increased at a slow pace since 2012 and currently stands at 9.9 %. The MAP amendment is needed to achieve the ambitious 2020 target of 14 % set forth in the Renewable Energy Heat Act,” the BMWi stated in a press release on 11 March, in which the ministry also announced the new incentive regulations.
According to the German solar industry association, BSW Solar, and the German heating industry association, BDH, the country saw an 11 % decrease in newly installed solar collector area in 2013, bringing market volume down to 735 MWth (1.05 million m²). The analysis presented by BSW Solar Managing Director, Jörg Mayer, at the Solar Thermal Energy Symposium in Bad Staffelstein pointed most of all to a slump in the German market segment of solar combi systems for domestic hot water and space heating in existing buildings. The symposium, which took place at the end of May, is now in its 24th year and gathered 333 scientists and solar thermal industry representatives from the German-speaking region.
Photo: East-Bavarian Institute for Technology Transfer, OTTI
Since January 2014, companies have been able to receive grants for their thermal-driven sorption cooling systems with a cooling power between 5 kW and 500 kW from the programme for commercial cooling technology in Germany. Until 2013, the minimum cooling power for the programme had been 50 kW. The Federal Environment Ministry published the amendment on 16 December 2013 (see the attached document). The programme supports solar thermal cooling, but also cooling systems driven by other green heat sources, such as industrial waste heat, cogeneration plants and district heating. The subsidy is 25% of the net investment for the cooling system, including installation and consulting costs. Source: Green Chiller
Solar thermal systems are able to meet a significant portion of the heating requirements in many industrial and commercial settings. This is one of the results of an expert workshop entitled The Emerging Market for Solar Process Heat, which was organised by German research institute Fraunhofer ISE in Berlin in mid-June. One of the main topics of the workshop was the effect the improved conditions for solar process heat installations within the German Market Rebate Programme for Renewable Energies (MAP) had had on the market. Since August 2012 the MAP grants subsidies of up to 50 % of the net investment costs associated with the use of solar heat for thermal processes in industrial and commercial settings in Germany. The photo above shows the storage tanks of a solar thermal installation at a laundry. The tanks provide heat for the boiler feed water, the boiler make-up water and the washing machines.
Photo: Fraunhofer ISE
With almost one year of delay, the German government finally published the mandatory evaluation on the effects of the Renewable Energies Heating Law (EEWärmeG) in December 2012. The German ministries involved had a hard time to agree on whether the existing measures are enough to fulfil the 2020 target of 14% renewable heat or whether stricter laws and higher financial incentives would be necessary. The final report is a compromise which seems to have no clear goal: On the one hand, it states that there is no need for short-term changes. On the other hand, it says that the share of renewable heat will only reach 12.2 % by 2020. The chart shows that heat pumps profited much more from the EEWärmeG than solar thermal technologies.
Data Source: German Federal Environment Ministry