To have a solar thermal system on the roof of one’s home may be a good thing if it does work well. But the probability that solar water heaters perform as they should and as long as they are supposed to is higher when they are installed by real experts familiar with the best practices of the industry. But how is one to know whether an installer is a real professional? Certification may be a viable indicator of whether or not a plumber can be trusted with installing a modern solar thermal system. That is why certification is gaining importance not only in manufacturing, but also in other parts of the industry.
As in previous years, Denmark remained the country dominating Europe’s solar district heating market. Twenty of the 23 new and upgraded district heating plants in Europe above 350 kWth (500 m²) from the statistics compiled by Jan-Olof Dalenbäck from the Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, went into operation in Denmark – whereas Austria, Italy and Sweden had only one each to show for. Dalenbäck’s database shows 211 large-scale district heating plants currently in operation, with combined output at 708 MW (1.01 million m²). This means that only every fourth district heating plant in Europe uses solar energy compared to the 5,400 district heating systems a database from Swedish Halmstad University lists from across the EU-27. The map shows 2,188 cities with 2,445 larger district heating systems. The highest plant densities can be found in Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Source: Heat Roadmap Europe 2050 - Second pre-study for the EU27 (see the attached document)
The Union Budget in India for 2016-17 – announced by the Finance Minister on 29 February 2016 – includes good and bad news for the solar thermal industry. On a positive note: The government has again increased the coal tax from Indian Rupee (INR) 200 to 400 per ton, after already doubling it in Finance Bill 2014-2015. The additional tax revenues will be used to support renewable energy technologies. The overall financial support for renewable energies will increase to INR 50.6 billion (EUR 725 million) during financial year 2016-17. Additionally, the customs duty on solar-tempered glass and solar glass was raised to 5 % besides a Special Additional Duty of 4 % to strengthen domestic manufacturing. On the downside, there is the increase of basic customs duty from 7.5 to 10 % under Harmonised System (HS) code 84191920.
The Solar Keymark Network has decided to establish a working group in order to revise and improve the complaint procedures and put them into one document, as they have so far been described in several different papers and various articles: The Solar Keymark Scheme Rules, Article 2.2, includes instructions on how to handle complaints and there is Article 6.3. Special Test, whereas the CEN-CENELEC Internal Regulations Part 4, Article 7.4, describes the appeal procedures (see the attached documents). This move is deemed necessary because at the end of 2015 – for the first time since the Solar Keymark label was launched – several complaints were submitted to one of the empowered certification bodies. “In our network meeting, we informed the members about the first big complaint and discussed the need for putting the complaint procedures into one document, to make it clearer for the solar thermal industry how to use them,” said Jaime Fernández González-Granda, Chairman of the Solar Keymark Network and Product Officer at the Spanish certification and standardisation body, AENOR.
Almost 30 experts from 25 partner organisations met in Bolzano, Italy, on 21 and 22 March for the kick-off meeting of IEA SHC Task 56, Building Integrated Solar Envelope Systems for HVAC and Lighting. The overall goal of the task is to find out “why some ways of solar integration do work, while others don’t,” as the Task Operating Agent and Coordinator of the Sustainable Heating and Cooling Systems research team at Italian institute EURAC, Roberto Fedrizzi, put it – and, of course, to find measures to improve solar technology integration into façades and roofs. The photo shows a residential home in Stavern, southern Norway, where 7 m2 of solar collectors have been integrated into window frames in the south-facing facade, contributing to both domestic hot water preparation and space heating. Photo: Aventa
When it comes to renewable energies policy, Bulgaria is certainly not the most progressive country in Europe. So what GE Prisons Production (GE PP) did was an even more notable endeavour: The government-owned company established a so-called Green Plant on the premises of the Sofia Central Prison to manufacture solar water heaters. “I believe that the utilisation of solar energy is the future,” Yavor Dimitrov, Production Manager at GE PP said. “With many sunny days, climatic conditions in Bulgaria are favourable for this type of energy, which is why we decided to launch a production unit for solar thermal energy systems.” Before the solar business, GE PP had already been operating various production plants for window frames, furniture and clothing across the country. The photo shows a factory in Sofia for the manufacture of heat transfer coils, including two of the workers employed there.
Last year’s decline in the Chinese solar thermal market was greater than expected: Statements by the Chinese Solar Thermal Industry Federation during the annual assembly in Suzhou, Jiangsu, in November 2015, indicated that around 43.5 million m² had been newly installed in 2015 – 17 % less than in the previous year. Back in October 2015, solar thermal analyst Hongzhi Cheng expected the market only to drop to 50 million m². The figures gathered by Cheng and his Sun’s Vision team for 2014 had totalled 52.4 million m², which is also a reduction by 18 % compared to the year prior.
According to the announcements by the Crimean Ministry of Industry Policy, the peninsula should get its first solar collector production unit soon. The government has plans to establish a solar collector and heat pump factory in the industrial area of Feodossija, an article on the Kryminform website from 6 November 2015 stated, referring to a press release by the former Crimea’s Minister of Industrial Policy, Andrei Skrynnik. The largest local solar water heater supplier Afros imports collectors from neighbouring countries and focus on system installations. The photo shows one of the solar references from the Afros website, a residential installation in Alupka, near the peninsula’s southern coastline.
Luis Hilario Bérriz Pérez, President of the Cuban Society for the Promotion of Renewable Energy Sources (CUBASOLAR) has recently pointed out that 89 % of the island’s population had access to hot water, 80 % of them by using electric heaters mainly during peak hours, as Cuban radio Rebelde has cited the renewables expert. Hence, Bérriz Pérez wants to start using existing technology – namely solar water heaters produced in Cuba – on a major scale in order to take some pressure off the Cuban electricity grid. The figure shows the model of a solar water heater made in Cuba; it was taken from a guideline published by Bérriz Pérez in 2008.
Two hospitals in the adjacent municipalities of Gostynin and Płock in central Poland will be supplied by solar heat by the end of the year. Lucyna Koper, Project Coordinator at the Marcin Kacprzak Regional Hospital in Płock, confirmed that the two projects “have already entered the implementation phase and will be commissioned by the end of 2016. We have already signed the delivery contracts.” The installation will be carried out by a consortium of local companies, consisting of sanitary expert Envirotech and two installation companies specialised on renewable heating systems, Eco-Therm and Wachelka Inergis. The installers had already set up an 803 m2 system for the Pomeranian Centre of Traumatology in Gdańsk (see photo) some years ago. The trauma centre, which has more than 600 beds, had the collectors installed across several roofs of the building complex.