In September 2016, Roger Hackstock returned as Managing Director of Austria Solar after having already occupied this position between 2002 and 2013. In the three years that he was not at the helm of the Austrian industry association, Hackstock published a book on the “Energiewende” (energy transition), worked as programme manager for the country’s Climate and Energy Fund and coordinated the Storage initiative as an independent consultant. During our interview, he spoke about the challenges solar heat has had to face over the years, as market demand for system solutions is steadily on the rise, and noted that he was happy to support the industry in this new era.
The Canadian Drake Landing Solar Community has hit a new performance milestone, recording its first year of solar-only space heating during heating season 2015-2016. The community’s SDH plant, which has been in operation since 2007, was initially designed to achieve a solar fraction of 92 to 93 % for space heat in an average year. System improvements have increased that share and have made last winter the first time that solar energy was able to meet 100 % of the space heating requirements of the 52 energy-efficient residential buildings. The families heat their hot water with their own solar water heaters and gas-fired boilers. The initiator of the project was Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), which has since remained the central technical support.
The recording of the webinar Think big - Design rules and monitoring results of solar district heating systems is now available. Experts from Austria, Denmark and Germany reported on the hot topics in SDH development: Use and performance of seasonal heat storage units for increasing solar coverage, distributed SDH plants connected to specific points of district heating grids as well as large centralised SDH plants employed in particular in Denmark and combined with other renewable energy sources. They emphasised the fact that solar district heating has an enormous potential and monitoring data shows the high reliability of the systems as well as the high performing new generation of collectors. You find the presentations as attachments below.
The new interest subvention scheme for Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) technologies administrated by the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) is now open for applications. The scheme has been developed in cooperation with the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) during the GEF-UNIDO-MNRE project, which focuses on increasing the deployment of concentrating solar thermal systems for process heat applications in India. “Technology providers or beneficiaries can use a short-term bridge loan at normal interest rates for pre-financing the 30 % capital subsidy that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy grants for CST technologies,” explained Dr Anil Misra, National Project Manager at UNIDO (see photo). IREDA also hands out long-term loans covering up to 45 % of the benchmark system cost at 5 % lower-than-usual interest rates. The remaining 25 % are required as equity by the beneficiary.
Last year, the amount of newly installed glazed collector area added up to 2.7 million m² (1.9 GWth) in the European Union’s E28 and Switzerland combined. It is another decline compared to the previous year, this time by 7 %. The annual market statistics of the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) show 23,700 people to have been employed by the solar thermal sector Europe-wide, whereas turnover was EUR 1.9 billion overall. The four-page market survey published in November includes the country-specific figures of all 28 EU countries and Switzerland. Most of the data was provided by national associations, energy agencies or industry companies, although the markets of six smaller countries were estimated by the ESTIF team. The survey can be downloaded by filling in a form on the organisation’s website. A full report will be available to ESTIF members in early December.
Arcon-Sunmark has announced the completion of a second solar-heated copper mine project. In September 2016, the Danish company installed a 6,270 m² collector field (4.4 MWth) at La Parreña in central Mexico. A 30 September press release said that the solar field would cover 58 % of the mine’s demand for heat. The field consists of 456 components of nearly 14 m² each and a storage tank of 660 m³. The first project of its kind, a field of 39,300 m² (27.5 MWth), was completed with a joint-venture partner at the Gabriela Mistral mine in Chile in 2013. Being the world’s largest solar system for process heat application, it had produced 142,000 MWh in the first 35 months of operation, the press release said. This corresponds to a specific yield of 1,112 kWh per m² and year.
The recent approval of Working Rules means that the Global Solar Certification Network (GSCN) can now accept membership applications. The reuse of test and inspection reports in different certification schemes will be possible at the beginning of 2017. The GSCN was developed in Task 43 of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme to facilitate the cross-border trade of high-quality solar thermal products. The world map shows all the certification schemes which are already on their way into the GSCN – and more are said to follow soon. GSCN industry members can use a collector test report or a production inspection report from one of these schemes to apply for a certificate in another part of the world which is also part of GSCN. The procedure saves manufacturers time and money by removing the need for collector retesting or a second site inspection.
Pampa Elvira Solar (PES) operates the largest solar process heat installation worldwide, a 27.5 MWth collector field at the Gabriela Mistral mine in Chile. “It´s an every-day, every-hour struggle to harvest the sun and earn our wages, so we may continue the very humble – and much too often neglected – business of running a solar heat-delivering system in the middle of the desert,” said Ian Nelson, General Manager of Pampa Elvira Solar. Solarthermalworld.org spoke with him about dust problems, the opportunities of concentrating collectors, the challenges of ESCO operation and improved copper cathodes. Five-and-a-half years ago, the engineer started at Energía Llaima, an independent producer of hydro and solar thermal solutions. PES, which was founded in 2012, is a consortium of Danish company Arcon-Sunmark and Energía Llaima.
A New Zealand research project which deployed solar air collectors in schools to improve pupils’ health while reducing heat costs has garnered an award by the New Zealand Institute of Building this year. Robyn Phipps, Professor in Construction at Massey University’s School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, won the award for her research project conducted in cooperation with the Australian subsidiary of Danish air collector manufacturer Solarventi. The project led to the installation of solar air heating systems in ten classrooms of five primary schools in wintertime in 2013 and to the implementation of another batch of systems in 12 classrooms of six primary schools the following winter. Monitoring data showed that attaining similar temperatures in the control classrooms required 2.5 times the thermal energy used in the solar-heated ones.
About 400 industry stakeholders met in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Doha in early November to attend the first Green Expo Forum organised by the Gulf Organisation for Research and Development (GORD). The three-day conference offered presentations by experts from Gulf countries and the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (IEA SHC), which held its biannual Executive Committee meeting at around the same time. “The GORD conference was a great forum for presenting the research work from the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme,” said Ken Guthrie, Chairman of the IEA SHC. GORD had organised the Green Expo Forum in collaboration with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment. The first-day event was titled The Carbon & Climate Change Summit. The second and third day featured the Sustainable Built Environment Conference.