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Summer boom in Germany

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on August 20, 2008

Germany's solar thermal market is growing again, and this at an astonishing rate. After market sales plummeted by 37 % in the past year, the monthly sales statistics of BDH (Federal Industrial Association Germany House, Energy and Environmental Technology) – as they are available to the author – show encouraging increases in all segments. In the first half of this year, the quantity of flat-plate collectors rose by 85 % to 779,507 m2 (546 MWth), compared to the previous year. Evacuated tubes showed an increase of 55 % to 88,416 m2 (62 MWth).

For manufacturers, however, the higher numbers do not spread evenly through the first six months. Demand was still relatively low at the beginning of the year. In June and July, in contrast, it became record-breaking. The sales volume of combi storage tanks and buffer tanks as well as flat-plate collectors was two and a half times the volume of the comparing month in 2007. The manufacturing industry and their suppliers were not prepared for that kind of boom. Some of them are already fallen short of material. „We presently wait 3 to 4 weeks for a buffer tank and have already looked for suppliers abroad“, one of the big system integrators in Germany confirms. And relief is not in sight.

The BDH statistic proves a trend to solar thermal combi systems for domestic hot water and for space heating. The quantity of solar hot water tanks grew by 36 % compared to the previous year, whereas the quantity of combi storage tanks went up by 105 %.

One downside, however, is to be reported from Germany. Granting funds for systems that exceed 40 m2 by subsidising interest redemptions through the German KfW banking group has not come into effect. The Directorate General for Competition in Brussels has still not approved that measure by August 2008.

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