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USA: Solar Heating and Vacuum Tube Collectors are catching up

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on October 27, 2008

The US-American domestic solar heating and cooling market grew by 31 % in 2007, after the rapid climb of 77 % in 2006. These are figures from the annual statistics of the Energy Information Administration (EIA), which publishes the official energy statistics of the U.S. Government. In total 150,000 m2 of collector area was shipped last year (against 111,000 m2 in 2006). The EIA assumes that only 2 % of the total shipment was exported last year; the home market volume was thus 147,000 m2. Of this, 37,000 m2 of glazed flat plate and vacuum tube collectors were imported. All figures are based on a comprehensive survey of the industry and the wholesalers in the U.S. and are shown in figures 1 and 2. They exclude pool heating and concentrated solar power applications.

Annual shipments by market sectorFigure 1: Annual shipments of solar thermal collectors by market sector in the U.S. All figures include the import. 2005 and 2006 also include a very small number of exported collectors, whereas the figures of 2007 are only domestic shipments. Source: EIA

Space heating and combi systems are gaining momentum. Their market share rose from 7.5 % in 2005 to 11.6 % in 2007. Solar cooling systems play a minor role on the solar thermal market with not even 1 % market share. Figure 2 shows that vacuum tubes are catching up. Every sixth collector panel had vacuum tubes in 2007, whereas two years earlier only 300 m2 of collector area found their way to customers, according to the EIA statistics.

 

 

Annual shipments by collector typeFigure 2: Annual shipments of solar thermal collectors by type in the U.S. All figures include the import. 2005 and 2006 also include a very small number of exported collectors, whereas the figures of 2007 are only domestic shipments. Source: EIA

 

The EIA statistics count 60 manufacturers and/or importers active in the U.S. territory, a significant increase from the 44 companies operating in 2006. The figures include the segment of pool heating and concentrating solar power (CSP). According to the EIA, 17 companies are planning new medium-temperature collectors.

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