The 191 solar process heat projects which have made it into the online database http://ship-plants.info/ add up to an installed capacity of 0.11 GWth (0.159 million m²), which is only a small fraction of the potential estimated for this type of application. To quantify the technology’s global opportunities, the researchers from the now-completed four-year Task 49 / IV, Solar Heat Integration in Industrial Processes, analysed the results of several national studies which had tried to determine the potential of solar process heat while considering restrictions such as temperature range and the space available for the systems (see the chart on the left). “For Europe, where mainly non-concentrating collectors had been investigated, the percentage of technical potential for solar process heat related to the total industrial heat demand is around 3 to 4 %,” was the conclusion by the authors of the attached report Potential studies on solar process heat worldwide.
On 24 November, the fifth Solar Heat Switzerland (Solarwärme Schweiz) conference organised by the solar industry association Swissolar, the building services association suissetec and the Federal Office of Energy was held in Lucerne, Switzerland. As 2017 funding for solar heat incentives remains in doubt in several cantons and the priorities of the country´s energy policy haven’t been announced yet, the market outlook for solar thermal has not been very encouraging. But there seems to be a ray of hope in the form of low-temperature collectors for borehole regeneration and solar district heating. Click here to download the German-language presentations from the conference.
The ranking of the largest flat plate collector manufacturers is headed by the same four companies as last year: Greenonetec from Austria, Fivestar from China, Soletrol from Brazil and Bosch Thermotechnik from Germany. But aside from the continuity at the top, last year shows what different paths some markets have taken. Whereas Australian-based Solahart, one of the pioneers of global solar collector trade, as well as Soletrol, the largest Brazilian manufacturer, have lost ground, several others – such as Sunrain from China, Hewalex from Poland and Eraslan from Turkey – were able to report above-average growth for 2015 and rise through the ranks. The produced collector area of the overall 21 companies added up to 4,212,462 m². The number was 21 and not 20 because the last and second-last spot were occupied by companies with equal production output.
After seven years, the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (IEA SHC) is planning to launch another international research cooperation on PVT technology. PVT includes panels which combine photovoltaics and solar thermal into one unit either as glazed or unglazed systems. The first and only task on PVT systems was completed in June 2010. The new one, entitled Application of PVT Collectors and New Solutions with PVT Systems, is in the definition phase. It is expected to start in July 2017 and run for 3.5 years. Interested researchers and industry representatives have been invited to attend a two-day workshop at ETH university in Zurich, Switzerland, from 16 March (1 p.m.) to 17 March (12 a.m.) in order to discuss crucial aspects and the structure of the global initiative.
Chart: Jean-Christophe Hadorn, Swiss energy consultant, contracted by the SFOE, Switzerland
For more than 35 years, Thermocell collectors have been exclusively manufactured in New Zealand. Developed and commercialised in the late 1970s by Professor Emeritus Arthur Williamson from the University of Canterbury, these patented collector types have been produced in Christchurch ever since. In the peak years of 2005 and 2006, about 12 staff worked for Thermocell in administration, production and installation. As New Zealand’s solar thermal market has declined significantly over the past ten years, only two of those people are left today. “Arthur developed a reliable technology and we are maintaining systems which are more than 30 years old,” confirmed Ian Johns, General Manager of Sunstream Solar, a Thermocell collector reseller and installer from Christchurch. The photo shows Williamson in front of a “heat sheet”, the unique feature of Thermocell systems.
Photos: University of Canterbury / Sunstream Solar
The Solar Keymark Network (SKN) discussed and approved new complaint procedures during its most recent meeting on the Greek island of Crete in mid-October 2016. Action had to be taken, as the first series of complaints filed in late 2015 against Swedish test lab SP about the certificates of Danish collector manufacturer Arcon-Sunmark was not resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved. The results of the October meeting are described in a publicly available draft of the minutes on the SKN webpage.
The IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report or MTRMR 2016 again includes a chapter on renewable heating and cooling – and it’s growing in size. The 282-page document published from Singapore on 25 October analyses on 47 pages the current and future market development of four renewable heating technologies: biomass, solar thermal, geothermal and heat pumps. The IEA began to add a renewable heating chapter to its MTRMR in 2013 – back then, it had only 14 pages. The authors of this year’s edition emphasise the fact that onshore wind and solar PV are the only renewable technologies on track for a 2 °C target.
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.