From 11 to 14 October, more than 300 experts in solar energy met in Palma de Mallorca for the EuroSun 2016 conference. Organised by the International Solar Energy Society (ISES) in cooperation with the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB), the conference is attended mainly by scientists and industry stakeholders from the solar heating and cooling sector. But for the first time, speakers also included well-known specialists from the photovoltaics sector. Two panel discussions illustrated the wide range of opinions on solar heat and solar electricity market development and the technologies' competitors. The photo shows Professor Eicke Weber (middle), newly elected Vice President of ISES and Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Fraunhofer ISE) based in Freiburg, Germany, and two of the three conference chairs: Professor Wolfgang Streicher (left) from the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and Professor Víctor Martínez Moll (right) from the UIB.
After France had become involved in a couple of EU-supported projects as a newcomer, the country is now ready for take-off in the solar district heating (SDH) market. Monitoring data from the first two French pilot plants show performance to be quite good and the systems to be highly reliable. The chart depicting the performance of the 458 m2 evacuated tube collector field in Balma-Gramont was presented by Fabrice Renaud, Research Engineer in the R&D centre Cylergie at the French group Engie, during the 4th International Solar District Heating Conference in Billund, Denmark. There is also a new strategy document being devised to advance the development of SDH in the French region of Auvergne – Rhône-Alpes.
After having announced plans to sharply increase energy prices across the country, the Argentine government is said to approve new legislation for promoting solar thermal technology. A new bill, which is expected to be passed by the end of 2016, is thought to create a number of financial incentives, soft loans and a binding obligation for solar water heaters in public buildings. However, the domestic market has already been experiencing remarkable growth: Solar water heaters have gained a significant boost in popularity since this July, when President Mauricio Marci ordered a 260-litre system equipped with a flat plate collector from Energe, one of Argentina’s major solar thermal suppliers. The photo posted on Energe's Facebook page shows the president (middle) and a team from the company at the new solar thermal installation.
Although Bulgaria is a country with many green or mountainous areas, it has had to grapple with severe air pollution caused not only by old cars, but also by wood-fuelled heating systems, which are popular across the country. The European Environment Agency has recently rated the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, as the most polluted one in Europe. Last year, the conservative government of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov stepped up to the plate and announced the National Programme for Energy Efficiency of Multi-Family Residential Buildings (NPEE). Its aim is to provide billions of euros for making several thousand residential buildings energy efficient until the end of 2018 – with no charges to flat owners. The photo shows three blocks of flats awaiting modernisation.
The summer school called City in Transition (Stadt im Wandel) ended with a public presentation of the project designs from four student groups on Monday, 26 September, in Berlin, Germany (see photo). During the previous week, students from different fields and German universities had developed a master plan for solar-optimised buildings in an area of Berlin’s Adlershof district. ”We educated students on how to combine town planning and solar energy usage,” explained Tanja Siems, one of the organisers of the summer school and Head of the Institute of Urban Design & Studies, Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering of the University of Wuppertal, Germany. Several experts from the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling programme’s Task 51, Solar Energy in Urban Planning, had supported the summer school as tutors or evaluated the final presentations.
This July, SP issued new Solar Keymark certificates for four Danish Arcon-Sunmark collectors after the Swedish test lab and certification body had retested these four systems in April. The retesting had been necessary, as SP had received six complaints because of a lower-than-expected c1 (heat loss coefficient) value on certificates issued in November 2015. At first, it looked like a case closed, but the stakeholders who submitted complaints are now calling for a reform of the complaint procedures and tolerances established by the Solar Keymark Network (SKN).
There is now nothing in the way of constructing an impressive solar heating and cooling installation in Nicaragua. At the end of September, the last signatures were placed under the contract documents for a 4,450 m² collector field which will supply air conditioning and warm water to the Hospital Militar Escuela Dr. Alejandro Dávila Bolaños in Managua (see photo), the capital city of the central American nation. “Installation work will start in January 2017, and commissioning is planned for the second quarter of next year,” was how Christian Holter, Managing Director of S.O.L.I.D, outlined the ambitious plan. The Austrian turnkey system supplier had been struggling for over three years to receive financing for the 4 million EUR project in form of a soft loan, a financing instrument for developing countries.
Photo: Hospital Militar Escuela Dr. Alejandro Dávila Bolaños
The Moldovan Agency of Energy Efficiency (AEE) and the country’s Ministry of Economy have jointly announced a tender invitation to companies which would like to start their own solar collector production in Moldova. According to a news article published on 28 September on Russian Mail website mail.ru, the invitation will be made in mid-October. The project will be funded by the Moldovan government as well as a private investor. The map shows the country of Moldova, which is situated between Romania and Ukraine and has a population of around 4 million.
Last year, Chinese vacuum tube manufacturer Huang Ming internationally known as Himin Solar installed its largest system for solar process heat to date. The company said that it had set up a 9,903 m² installation in Shandong province in October 2015, a system which had since produced heat for a textile factory owned by the Ruyi Group. The RMB 12.46 million (EUR 1.66 million) project had been entirely financed by the customer, which had not received any public subsidies. Ruyi had had the plant built because of a lack of electricity. “The local government had restricted electricity supply to Ruyi, which meant that the business could no longer fulfil its annual output targets,” stated a press release by Himin.
Topping out a new primarily solar-supplied residential building in Germany is not really news anymore, especially because there have already been more than 1,800 solar houses set up all across the country, according to November 2015 statistics by the association Sonnenhaus-Institut (Solar House Institute). What’s special about this topping out ceremony on a solar house in Schmölln in the region of Thuringia at the end of August 2016 is the fact that the investor is a bank. The building is planned to cover 55 % of its heat and 100 % of its electricity demand by solar. With it, local cooperative bank VR Bank Altenburger Land wants to demonstrate to its members and clients what smart living will look like in the future.
Photo: Verlagsgruppe Kamprad / VR-Bank Altenburger Land eG