A new joint venture founded in Beijing, China, on 31 May aims at offering large-scale solar heating solutions on the Chinese market. The country’s market leader, Jiangsu Sunrain Solar Energy, and Arcon-Sunmark, a Danish turnkey large-scale system provider, joined forces to establish Arcon-Sunmark Large-Scale Solar Systems Integration Co., Ltd., headquartered in Beijing. The photo shows (from left) Xinjian Xu, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Jiangsu Sunrain Solar Energy, Torben Sørensen, Group Executive Officer of VKR Holding, the owner of Arcon-Sunmark, and Mads Kann-Rasmussen, Board Member of VKR Holding, who represents the family behind VKR.
A great deal of sunlight, large investment grants and subsidised energy prices: These are the factors determining the profitability of big solar thermal systems in Tunisia, according to the authors of the study Opportunities for solar thermal systems in the tertiary and industrial sectors in Tunisia, a publication by the German Agency for International Cooperation, GIZ, (see attached document in English, the French version is under consultation). Under certain circumstances, a solar thermal system can achieve a double-digit Internal Rate of Return (IRR), for example, if it is installed at LPG-dependent hotels or hospitals on the Tunisian island of Djerba. When solar replaces natural gas in commercial buildings in Tunisia’s capital, Tunis, the IRR is still significantly higher than the estimated 4.3 % inflation per year. However, there are difficulties with the economic feasibility of solar process heat applications because not even top reference cases have fulfilled investor expectations. The authors emphasise that the importance Tunisian businesses currently place on payback periods for investing may lead them to overlook valuable projects.
The recently launched report Solar Heat Worldwide 2016 offers a comprehensive overview of the global and national market development in the solar heating and cooling sector (see the attached document). On behalf of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (SHC), Austrian research institute AEE INTEC gathered data on 2014 market changes from 61 countries worldwide, one more than last year (Lesotho). The authors of the report, Franz Mauthner, Werner Weiss und Monika Spörk-Dür, asked national stakeholders about the newly installed capacity in 2014, the type of technology used, the share of applications and, for the first time, the costs of solar thermal systems in their countries. The chart shows the market growth in newly installed capacity in 2013/2014 (glazed as well as unglazed collectors) worldwide and broken down by economic region. The report is the most comprehensive publication on the global solar heating and cooling industry and has been referenced by many international studies from IEA, REN21 and IRENA.
Online sales models are gradually gaining a foothold in the heating market. While a rising number of companies has addressed customers directly, others leave the task to the installers. Austrian company Siko has found a way to merge both models. The screenshot shows an offer for a solar thermal system from the company´s online shop at naturkraftheizung.com (translated: heating with natural energy).
Last year, the Israeli market saw a significant increase in newly installed glazed collector area, showing a total of 428,750 m² or a 9 % increase compared to the previous year. Eli Shilton, Managing Director of Israeli solar thermal system supplier Elsol, believes that a hail storm last winter was responsible for the greater demand for system replacement. “Since local collectors have standard glass covers, the hail storm broke a lot of the glass,” Shilton explained and added: “People are not worried about it, as the systems were covered by insurance and most owners will be reimbursed for all of the damage caused.” Thirty years of experience have made Eli Shilton a well-recognised expert in the Israeli solar thermal industry. The photos show centralised solar thermal systems on new multi-family buildings in Israel.
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.
The main objective of IEA SHC Task 52, Solar Thermal in Energy Supply Systems in Urban Environments, is to call attention to both the technical and economic aspects of solar heating and cooling usage in densely populated urban areas. Urban planners and commercial clients want to know the costs compared to the energy output generated by various solar heating technologies. A method to benchmark different solar heat production systems is Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE). This method is described by the IEA as the “average price that would have to be paid by consumers to repay exactly the investor/operator for the capital, operation and maintenance and fuel expenses, with a rate of return equal to the discount rate”. The chart shows the LCOE for different applications and system sizes in northern / central European climates, taken from the most current Task 52 study Technology and Demonstrators (for further details see table below). The author of the study, Franz Mauthner from Austrian research institute AEE INTEC, contributed to this article, which elaborates on the method and the calculations behind it.
Chart: Task 52 / Technology and Demonstrators study
The Indian solar thermal market has had no official market statistics since the residential subsidy scheme was halted in August 2014. To close the gap, Indian consultant and solarthermalworld.org contributor Jaideep Malaviya carried out his own survey to estimate the newly installed glazed collector area in financial year 2015-16. Malaviya determined the number of vacuum tubes and complete solar water heater systems which were imported to the country and asked the suppliers of absorber fins for flat plate collector for their figures. The study resulted in an estimated 1.01 million m2 of gross area (707 MWth) added in 2015-16 – a 14 % decrease compared to the previous financial year. The last two years in the chart show the annual market volume based on his calculations.
Chart source data: MNRE until 2013-14, estimates by Jaideep Malaviya 2014-15 and 2015-16
Energy Service Companies (ESCO) have become pioneers in the development of financing and operating models for various energy sector customers. Every two years, the so-called Contracting Award highlights exemplary ESCO projects in Germany (“Contracting” is the German word for Energy Service Contracts). For the first time since the launch of the awards in 1997, the jury members from the magazine Energy & Management and the German Heat & Power Association, AGFW, presented one of these awards to a solar thermal ESCO. On 16 April, Christian Holter (third from left), Managing Director of Austrian turnkey system supplier S.O.L.I.D., was presented with the second prize for its solar energy supply contract with a district heating company in the Austrian city of Graz. The company published Tech Sheets and Fact Sheets about ESCO models as part of the IEA’s Solar Heating and Cooling programme’s Task 45, Large Scale Solar Heating and Cooling Systems (see the attached documents).
The first and so far unique solar district heating plant in Italy completed its first year in operation in mid-May this year. According to metering by the operator of the 990 m² collector field, utility Varese Risorse, output was significantly higher than expected. The chart shows the total output measured over almost 12 months: It was 13 % higher than the target figure. The solar district heating plant was developed and installed by a newly founded Italian company, SDH Energy, which also guaranteed the solar yield (red line).