Reduced real estate investment has been the key reason for the strong decline of China’s solar thermal market. In 2015, the collector area installed annually was down to 43.5 million m² (30.5 GWth), which almost put the figure back to the level of 2009, and the growth rates in 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 were -18 % and -17 % respectively. The chart on annual output was taken from a presentation by He Tao, Professor at the China Academy of Building Research. He held it during the Executive Committee Meeting of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme in Spain at the beginning of June. When presenting the numbers, the professor also emphasised that the industry “has made great efforts to find new applications for space heating, solar process heat and space cooling” (see the attached presentation).
How much will the transformation of the German energy industry cost if it is to reach greenhouse gas emissions reductions of at least 80 % by 2050? The German Institute Fraunhofer ISE used its Renewable Energy Model REMod-D for Germany 2050 to perform the simulations necessary to answer this key question. REMod-D considers all kinds of energy end-use applications (in manufacturing, transport and residential segments) and each and every energy technology. Simulations are performed on an hourly basis to ensure the security of supply in all industries throughout the year. The studied scenarios differ with regard to drive concepts used in the private and commercial transport industry, the extent of energy retrofits in the building industry and the exact time at which coal will no longer be used to generate electricity. The most recent REMod-D study, which was published in November 2015, was called “What Will the Energy Transformation Cost? Pathways for Transforming the German Energy System by 2050” (see attached document in German). Solarthermalworld.org spoke with Sebastian Herkel from Fraunhofer ISE about the study’s solar thermal outcomes and the use of REMod-D in urban planning scenarios of Task 52 of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme.
The American Solar Heating & Cooling Alliance will offer sector-related conferences at both of its major upcoming events in the USA: Intersolar in San Francisco on 12 July and Solar Power International in Las Vegas on 12 September. The SHC Alliance, a division of the Solar Energy Industries Association, is organising and sponsoring these events to assess the tremendous impact solar thermal could have on energy and national gas consumption across the country. There is still little demand for solar thermal technologies and the industry will need to invest considerable effort in communicating their advantages. Gross additions in 2015 for glazed collectors have been estimated at 170,000 m² – a 7 % drop compared to the previous year. Unglazed collectors increased 1 % last year, bringing the total up to 846,000 m². These US market figures were provided by Les Nelson, a member of the SHC Council.
Australia’s energy policy has been in the international press mostly for its shift back toward coal under the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. However, Jeremy Osborne, Director of Energy Analysis & Engineering, said in an interview with solarthermalworld.org that Australia did have a “supportive government despite all the news”. Since July 2015, renewables for industrial processes has been one of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) investment priorities, which includes solar process heat. ARENA also published the report Renewable Energy Options for Australian Industrial Gas Users in September 2015, emphasising that lower-temperature process heat systems at around 100 °C are most “prospective at present” (see the attached document). Positive Internal Rates of Return (IRR) are achieved with gas prices above Australian Dollar (AUD) 5 per gigajoules (GJ). According to the report, the wholesale price for gas was between 6 and 8 AUD/GJ in 2014 and is expected to rise to between 9 and 12 AUD/GJ before the end of the decade.
At present, the Danish turnkey supplier of concentrating solar systems, Aalborg CSP, has two more large projects under construction. Both installations – one for Danish district heating company Brønderslev Forsyning and one for Australian vegetables producer Sundrop Farms – cover electricity and heat demand at their sites. Yet another first-of-its-kind project was inaugurated in August 2015 in the Danish village of Tårs (see photo), 30 km north of Aalborg. It entailed 4,039 m² of parabolic trough collectors and a preheating flat plate collector field of 5,972 m². Simulations have pointed to a 31 % coverage of annual heat demand even without seasonal storage, since overheating in summer can be avoided by moving the parabolic trough collectors out of focus. Aalborg CSP is an experienced planner of steam and boiler systems and has been offering concentrating solar solutions since 2007.
“Large-scale solar thermal systems in the GW range – an insignificant niche market or the future for solar thermal?” was the official title of a panel discussion at the Gleisdorf Solar conference in Austria in early May. The most important question was: What will be next for the planned 350 MWth solar district heating system called Big Solar in the Austrian city of Graz? “The challenge was to adapt the Danish district heating solutions to Austrian conditions,” emphasised the project’s initiator, Christian Holter (right), Managing Director of S.O.L.I.D. Meanwhile, Christian Stadler (left), Managing Director of one of Arcon-Sunmark’s subsidiaries, Arcon-Sunmark Germany & Austria, represented the company that has stated his own interest in realising Big Solar.
At the international conference Gleisdorf Solar in Austria, Austrian brewery Göss was presented with the SHC Solar Award, the "Oscar" of the solar heating and cooling industry. The IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (IEA SHC) created this award to recognise outstanding achievements by suppliers or users of solar thermal technology. The photo shows master brewer Andreas Werner (right), who received the prize from the hands of Doug McClenahan, Chair of the SHC Solar Award committee (second from right), and Ken Guthrie, Chair of IEA SHC (second from left).
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.