Despite shrinking markets in Europe, Greece’s collector and tank manufacturers have increased their exports two times in a row. In 2015, the solar thermal industry delivered 7 % more collector area abroad and in 2016, the figure even rose by 14 % compared to the year prior and totalled 330,000 m² (231 MWth). Main export markets were in Southern Europe, North Africa and the Gulf region. Domestic sales have remained at the same level since 2014, at around 270,000 m² (189 MWth).
Whereas Central Europe’s solar thermal markets keep shrinking, Greek has been very stable in recent years. In the meantime, Southern Europe’s hopeful, however, has attracted domestic competitors from other sectors with a low performance, such as PV wholesalers. Usually, they sell collectors from big domestic OEM manufacturers at a low price. Recently, TV adverts have even begun to promote solar thermal systems at low and fixed costs. “We are talking about a completely new situation, which has made end customers to think a solar water heater costs only that much,” says Panayis Konstantinidis, Managing Director of collector manufacturer Calpak Solar Energy (Cicero Hellas) and since January 2013 President of the Greek Solar Industry Association, EBHE.
Photo: Bärbel Epp
On 15 October 2012, Greece increased the tax on heating oil - drastically: Instead of EUR 0.90 to 1.05, consumers now have to pay around EUR 1.30 to 1.40 per litre. Heating one’s home has become a challenge for many people, who switch to wood as an alternative fuel. The only good thing about the entire situation: The high oil price may encourage customers to invest in solar thermal systems as well. The most recent international study ISOL Navigator published in December 2012 shows both a currently very positive business index and a 5.6 % growth in the newly installed collector area within the country. Still, the future does not look very bright indeed, as the economic situation is rather uncertain. For the first time, December’s Forecast Business ISOL Index has been below the Current Business Index, which points to a downward trend in the market this year.
Photo: Urs Flükiger / pixelio.de