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IEA SHC Task 54: Investigating Cost Factors Along the Value Chain

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on May 22, 2017
Task 54 RWTH AachenResearchers have worked intensively for one-and-a-half years across national borders to find ways of reducing the costs of solar thermal systems and making them more attractive to end users. The members of Task 54 of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme, Price Reduction of Solar Thermal Systems, have discussed the effects of standardised product designs or changes in product offerings on cost structures. They have also analysed the entire value chain from component manufacture to system assembly and installation to help identify cost-cutting potential. This is the first time that methods of Process Cost Analysis are being adapted for the solar thermal business. “The share of overhead (e.g. marketing, sales, logistics, quality management and maintenance) has increased significantly, from 30 to 60 % of total product expenses over the last 50 years. This means we will have to investigate the relationship between technology, product portfolio and overhead,” explained Wolfgang Kramer, Head of the Solar Thermal Heating Systems Department at German-based Fraunhofer ISE. “To this end, the process cost analysis provides important quantitative information.” For example, the chart illustrates the issue of having a wider product portfolio and its impact on competitiveness and profitability. The model is currently being adapted for the solar industry in Task 54 as part of German research programme TEWIsol.
Chart: RWTH Aachen University
 

IEA SHC Task 51: German Summer School Educates Students on Solar Urban Planning

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on October 18, 2016
Summer School BerlinThe summer school called City in Transition (Stadt im Wandel) ended with a public presentation of the project designs from four student groups on Monday, 26 September, in Berlin, Germany (see photo). During the previous week, students from different fields and German universities had developed a master plan for solar-optimised buildings in an area of Berlin’s Adlershof district. ”We educated students on how to combine town planning and solar energy usage,” explained Tanja Siems, one of the organisers of the summer school and Head of the Institute of Urban Design & Studies, Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering of the University of Wuppertal, Germany. Several experts from the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling programme’s Task 51, Solar Energy in Urban Planning, had supported the summer school as tutors or evaluated the final presentations. 
Photo: Theo Lorenz, University of Wuppertal 
 

IEA SHC: Cost Reduction Analysis Workshops at German University of Stuttgart

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on September 8, 2016
Task54 Brussels WorkshopSystem cost reduction is one of the most urgent challenges of the solar thermal sector, especially in central Europe. The aim of Task 54 of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme, Price Reduction of Solar Thermal Systems, is to lower solar heat prices by up to 40 %. Germany’s main scientific contributions to the task have come from the two research projects KoST and TEWIsol, which have been co-funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The corresponding Task 54 meeting will take place in Stuttgart on 6/7 October (see the attached programme) in conjunction with a workshop on 5 October to present and discuss KoST and TEWIsol (12 p.m. to 4 p.m.; held in German). The photo shows the Task 54 workshop organised in collaboration with the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation in Brussels in May 2016.
Photo: Fraunhofer ISE
 

Germany: National Subsidy Scheme Gets Significant Amendment

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 24, 2015
MAPOn 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. 
Photo: Fotolia
 

Europe: Performance and Cost Comparisons of Larger Residential Solar Thermal Systems

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on December 2, 2014
As solar thermal installations have been a rare sight at Germany’s multi-family houses, the country’s Institute of New Energy Systems (InES) at the University of Applied Sciences in Ingolstadt took a closer look at Europe’s currently available larger solar thermal systems for domestic hot water and space heating. Daniel Beckenbauer, researcher at InES, counted 29 German collector installations above 100 m², as well as 47 systems in other European countries by surveying existing literature, web-based monitoring and other research programmes. Beckenbauer chose parameters such as solar share, investment costs and solar heat prices to compare these systems and to analyse the system designs offered on the market today. The chart above shows the monitored solar share based on the system’s specific storage volume. Because there are great differences in this volume between the surveyed projects, the x-axis has been divided logarithmically, spreading from 0.01 litre per MWh consumed heat per year (1E-05) to 100 m³ per MWh annually (1E+02).
Figures: Institute of New Energy Systems (InES)
 

South Africa: Fresnel Collectors Keep It Cool in MTN’s Server Rooms

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on August 28, 2014
Industrial SolarSince June 2014, a Fresnel collector field with 242 kWth has been feeding into the district cooling system of the MTN Group at its headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa. MTN, which has more than 200 million customers, as well as subsidiaries in 22 countries across Africa and the Middle East, is one of the leading mobile operators in South Africa – and it is aware of the impact of global warming. “We continuously explore ways in which we can lessen the impact of our operations on the environment. This initiative will not only reduce our carbon footprint but it will substantially reduce our electricity consumption, which will release additional capacity for the national grid,” MTN’s CEO, Zunaid Bulbulia, was quoted as saying in a press release from 17 July 2014. The concentrating solar thermal plant powers the double-effect absorption chiller whose cooling capacity of 330 kW keeps temperatures low in the data centre at MTN’s head office. 
Photo: Industrial Solar
 

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