The recent approval of Working Rules means that the Global Solar Certification Network (GSCN) can now accept membership applications. The reuse of test and inspection reports in different certification schemes will be possible at the beginning of 2017. The GSCN was developed in Task 43 of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme to facilitate the cross-border trade of high-quality solar thermal products. The world map shows all the certification schemes which are already on their way into the GSCN – and more are said to follow soon. GSCN industry members can use a collector test report or a production inspection report from one of these schemes to apply for a certificate in another part of the world which is also part of GSCN. The procedure saves manufacturers time and money by removing the need for collector retesting or a second site inspection.
Pampa Elvira Solar (PES) operates the largest solar process heat installation worldwide, a 27.5 MWth collector field at the Gabriela Mistral mine in Chile. “It´s an every-day, every-hour struggle to harvest the sun and earn our wages, so we may continue the very humble – and much too often neglected – business of running a solar heat-delivering system in the middle of the desert,” said Ian Nelson, General Manager of Pampa Elvira Solar. Solarthermalworld.org spoke with him about dust problems, the opportunities of concentrating collectors, the challenges of ESCO operation and improved copper cathodes. Five-and-a-half years ago, the engineer started at Energía Llaima, an independent producer of hydro and solar thermal solutions. PES, which was founded in 2012, is a consortium of Danish company Arcon-Sunmark and Energía Llaima.
A New Zealand research project which deployed solar air collectors in schools to improve pupils’ health while reducing heat costs has garnered an award by the New Zealand Institute of Building this year. Robyn Phipps, Professor in Construction at Massey University’s School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, won the award for her research project conducted in cooperation with the Australian subsidiary of Danish air collector manufacturer Solarventi. The project led to the installation of solar air heating systems in ten classrooms of five primary schools in wintertime in 2013 and to the implementation of another batch of systems in 12 classrooms of six primary schools the following winter. Monitoring data showed that attaining similar temperatures in the control classrooms required 2.5 times the thermal energy used in the solar-heated ones.
About 400 industry stakeholders met in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Doha in early November to attend the first Green Expo Forum organised by the Gulf Organisation for Research and Development (GORD). The three-day conference offered presentations by experts from Gulf countries and the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (IEA SHC), which held its biannual Executive Committee meeting at around the same time. “The GORD conference was a great forum for presenting the research work from the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme,” said Ken Guthrie, Chairman of the IEA SHC. GORD had organised the Green Expo Forum in collaboration with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment. The first-day event was titled The Carbon & Climate Change Summit. The second and third day featured the Sustainable Built Environment Conference.
The integration of solar facade solutions into the HVAC and lighting system of a building can only be successful if it is coordinated with architects and building engineers. A good forum to get in touch with architecture professionals is the annual Advanced Building Skins Conference (ABS) in Switzerland. The 2016 edition, which took place from 11 to 13 October, also included a session by the researchers of Building Integrated Solar Envelope Systems for HVAC and Lighting, which is the name of Task 56 of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme. Swiss Advanced Building Skins, the organiser of the event, reported that 520 experts attended this year’s global forum to listen to presentations during six parallel session blocks.
The world’s largest process heat installation has recently completed its third year of operation. The 39,000 m² collector field, which went online in October 2013 at Codelco´s Gabriela Mistral mine, is located 100 kilometres south of the town of Calama in Chile´s high central desert. Planning, delivery and installation of the solar field were done by Chilean-Danish joint-venture Pampa Elvira Solar, which has since been the operator of the system as well. The plant provides around 80 % of the energy required for the last step in copper production, the electrolytic refining of the metal in an acid bath. Solarthermalworld.org spoke with Roberto Roman, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Physics and Mathematical Sciences of the University of Chile. Roman has been part of a university team advising Codelco, Chile´s state-owned mining company, on solar mining from the very beginning.
Researchers at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have observed a renewed interest in solar process heat applications in recent years, mainly thanks to “the improvement and proliferation of solar collectors for electricity generation and the development of sophisticated solar collector modelling tools.” Last year, two of those researchers – Parthiv Kurup and Craig Turchi – conducted a study on the potential of solar process heat provided by concentrating collector technologies in California (see the attached document). This study, entitled Initial Investigation into the Potential of CSP Industrial Process Heat for the Southwest United States, was supported by the US Department of Energy and was published in November 2015. The chart taken from it shows the annual energy use of steam in industry segments which utilise the largest amount of gas. The study’s authors found the temperature range from about 120 to 220 °C to be of great interest, as it enables the use of concentrating optics and of water as the heat transfer fluid.
The Indian market has started to show signs of recovery in the previous financial year from April 2015 to March 2016. A survey carried out by Indian consultant Jaideep Malaviya found the newly installed collector area to have reached a total of 1.55 million m² (1.085 MWth). The share of vacuum tube based systems had been rising steadily and was almost 90 % of the overall low temperature solar collector market in 2015-2016. Assuming some of the older systems are non-functional, the cumulative market was 8.9 million m² in at the end of March 2016.
Source: MNRE up to and including 2013-2014, market survey by Jaideep Malaviya 2014-2015 and 2015-2016
In spring 2015, Germany´s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) introduced a performance-based incentive for solar heating as an alternative to the scheme offering incentives based on collector area. Recently published statistics have shown the new programme to grant higher financial support for about one-third of the currently funded projects. The others still receive funding from the previously established scheme.
In cooperation with EU project SmartReFlex, solarthermalworld.org will soon hold the webinar Think big – Design rules and monitoring results of solar district heating systems. We invite every stakeholder to join the event scheduled online for 1.5 hours on Tuesday, 6 December 2016, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Central European Time (time zone includes Berlin, Brussels, and Copenhagen). The webinar will be free of charge and will be open to anyone interested in the topic. You can register for it online.