The use of solar heat is becoming increasingly popular in Belarus, an eastern European country with around 10 million population. Official statistics from the Ministry of Energy put the number of systems installed across the country at 287; their combined collector area, however, has not been recorded. This article presents a selection of the solar thermal systems partly in residential use, but some have also been integrated into the facade of commercial buildings (left photo) as well as educational and healthcare facilities (right). Their collector size ranges from 4 to 100 m2.
Photos: All photos in this news article were provided by the owners of the solar thermal systems
German Vaillant has launched a project which has stirred controversy among installers: Online platform heizungonline.vaillant.de can be used by manufacturers to directly address those end customers who wish to shop online – and send them a “price indication” for a complete heating system. Recent discussions have revolved around the question of whether this is a help to installation companies or if it interferes with their entrepreneurial freedom.
Start-up Thermondo, based in Berlin, Germany, has turned the tables on sales and planning methods for home heating systems. Not only does the company generate its turnover online, it also leaves most of the planning for heating installations to a computer algorithm called “Manfred”. Surprisingly, Philipp Pausder, one of the two managing directors of Thermondo, said that the most important outcome of the new strategy wasn’t low prices but great service. The photo shows Thermondo’s three founding members (from left): Philipp Pausder, Florian Tetzlaff and Kristofer Fichtner.
Since Slovakia and its 5.45 million citizens joined the European Union in 2004, the country has made considerable progress in increasing its energy efficiency and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Solar thermal technology, however, is still a niche market with stagnating annual volumes over the last three years. The European Solar Thermal Industry Federation estimates that 5,500 m² were newly installed in 2014, whereas EurObserv´Er published a figure of 7,000 m² for the same year. With 19 kW of solar thermal capacity in operation per 1,000 inhabitants at the end of 2013, there is still a lot of untapped potential given the fact that in the neighbouring Czech Republic, the parameter is significantly higher with 31 kW per 1,000 inhabitants (Source: Solar Heat Worldwide (306)). Clients are now waiting on an already announced new subsidy scheme which should have started at the beginning of August. The photo shows a roof integration system delivered by Thermosolar, a collector manufacturer based in Slovakia.
“The change at the top of Centrotec made the first quarter of 2014 an unusually turbulent one.” These were the words with which Guido A Krass (left), founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of German Centrotec Sustainable, started the annual shareholders´ meeting in Brilon, central Germany, on 20 May 2014. The long-term Chairman of the Management Board, Dr Gert-Jan Huisman, resigned with immediate effect in April 2014, to make room for the new management team of Dr Christoph Traxler (middle) and Dr Thomas Kneip, both with long-term experiences in leading positions within the Centrotec Group. Krass justified the parting with Huisman with different views on the company’s business policy, in particular regarding the future of the gas flue systems segment. “It was a friendly, but expensive resignation,” Krass said. Huisman received EUR 1 million in termination pay.
After Iran’s elections in June and the new government taking over in August, hopes are that solar thermal could become an increasingly important technology in the Mideast country. Hossein Riyahi Dehkordi, Managing Director of Iranian solar company Polar Mehr Iranian - POMAco, expects the new government to improve the existing incentive schemes for solar thermal. “New investments and more support for green energy are in reach,” he says. But there has not yet been any specific announcement on how the improvement would look like. The photo shows the solar thermal installation in a public bath, the most common application for solar water heaters in Iran. The following article relies mainly on information from Mr Dehkordi, who gave an exclusive interview to solarthermalworld.org. POMAco is a joint-venture of Iranian company Solar Polar, a subsidiary of heating system specialist Polar Industrial Group and a collector manufacturer since 1999, and solar thermal system importer Taban Mehr Taksa, which is part of the Iranian Taksa Trade Development Group.
Photo: ITW/University of Stuttgart
Uniclima, the French union for the heating, cooling and ventilation industry, presented its latest take on the French solar thermal market in 2012 at a press conference in Paris on 18 October. Compared to the previous year, the market remained, all in all, stable by the end of August 2012. Each type of solar thermal technology, however, took a very different path throughout the year. The Uniclima study that was carried out among the union’s members shows that the collector area installed for domestic hot water in residential buildings (“CESI” in French) decreased by 14 % over the first eight months of 2012. Combi systems, which deliver energy for hot water and space heating (“SSC” in French), again declined this year (-21 %). Only the sector of solar hot water for multi-family houses (“ESC collective” in French) showed an increase of 20 % compared to 2011 (find a summary of the study attached to this news piece).