One key aspect of the energy and cost optimisation of large-scale collector fields (called arrays in this news) is collector array hydraulics. Optimal connection is achieved when (1) the costs and length of the connecting pipes is small, (2) the pressure drop over the entire array is low and (3) there is homogeneous mass flow distribution across the entire field. “Homogeneous mass flow reduces power losses in the circuit, avoids inefficient pump operation and prevents local stagnation,” explains Philip Ohnewein. The researcher at Austrian institute AEE INTEC managed the four-year project ParaSol (2011 to 2014), which – among other things – analysed the advantages and disadvantages of different hydraulic designs of large collector arrays of several hundreds to several thousands of panels. The results were also discussed and published as part of Task 45, Large Systems: Large Solar Heating/Cooling Systems, Seasonal Storage, Heat Pumps, of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme in a two-page info leaflet and a 44-page technical document (attached to this article).
Greece’s solar water heater manufacturers have proved to be highly resilient at a time when the country is in economic crisis. The collector manufacturers were able to increase both domestic (+19 %) and export (+16 %) sales in 2014, according to the Greek Solar Industry Association, EBHE. The industry provides a high level of vertical integration and exports 50 % of its annual production volume. EBHE promotes a number of measures to keep business growing for its members. At the beginning of the year, the association and industry sponsors commissioned the Greek Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research, IOBE, to carry out a survey on the economic impact of a domestic tax reduction scheme. The survey results are now available and EBHE’s President, Panayis Konstantinidis, has already been in several meetings with ministry officials and members of parliament. The photo shows Konstantinidis (left) with Kostis Hatzidakis, Member of Parliament and former Minister of Development, during a discussion in September 2015.
South Africa is back to the tender season. At the beginning of December, the Department of Energy (DoE) published its Invitation of Bids for the Manufacturing and Supply, Delivery and Warehousing of Solar Water Heater Systems for financial years 2015/2016, 2016/2017 as well as 2017/2018. It will end on 15 January 2016. The current tender was announced and expected since spring 2015. In her budget speech on 19 May 2015, the Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, promised an improved solar water heater programme operated by the DoE already within the 2015 budget. But nothing happened until the beginning of December. The industry was not at all amused about the delay, as several publications of the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa (SESSA) show.
The best solar research results are of little use if they are not distributed and known to stakeholders from the industry, planning departments or public authorities involved in the related field work. This becomes an even more important point if the aim of the research is to “assist with the developing of a strong and sustainable market”. One example: Task 48 (Quality Assurance & Support Measures for Solar Cooling Systems) under the auspices of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling programme. Between October 2011 and March 2015, a very dynamic group of 30 solar cooling experts teamed up to work on a wide range of topics. As many as 180 person months of research were at the disposal of the programme’s coordinators, which created a lot of interesting output. The cooling specialists accepted and met the challenge by presenting results in a clear structure on the above-shown diagram. The so-called Task 48 Results Diagram could serve as a best-practice model for other international research projects.
The implementation of voluntary collector label Solergy will enter into the second phase in 2016. The European Commission has confirmed that there was no likelihood of confusing the voluntary mark with the official energy labelling stipulated since September 2015 for heating devices across Europe, the Steering Committee of the Solar Heating Initiative said in a letter sent to selected stakeholders in the middle of December. The letter went on to explain that it would now be the responsibility of DIN Certco, the German certification body, to issue Solergy labels officially and register the certificates in an online database. During the first phase in the second half of 2015, it had been Stefan Abrecht, the initiator of the voluntary collector label and General Manager of German company Solar Experience, who had issued the certificates.
Cooling demand is growing worldwide and has already resulted in more than 125 million electricity-driven split chiller units installed in residential and commercial buildings each year. Danish company Purix aims at exactly this growing market segment with a green solution. “We offer plug & play solar cooling systems, either of mono- or multi-spilt design,” explains Lars Munkøe, Director and co-founder of Purix. The company was established in 2011 as a spin-off initiated by an R&D engineer in cooperation with Danish company Exima, a service provider for corporate responsibility. “Prior to the founding of Purix, the partners had designed and operated prototypes for a year, filed a patent application and gathered market intelligence,” explains Munkøe. The photo shows the outdoor unit of the cooling kit, including a Purix A25s chiller and two conventional collectors, which can be operated in a heating mode as well.
“The French market has been suffering from inadequately performing solar thermal installations made in the boom years of 2009 to 2011 because of untrained installers,” said Edwige Gautier, Project Coordinator at Enerplan, the Union of Professionals in Solar Energy, during her speech at SHC2015 in Istanbul at the beginning of December. “We need to rebuild investor confidence in solar thermal.” Training and installation manuals are one way to achieve this aim, monitoring systems would be another. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that two solar thermal innovations were conceived in France this year: Tecsol’s One Thermique and the storage tank touchscreens by Viessmann with its storage tank and collector factory in Faulquemont, France.
The publication of the EU Strategy on Heating and Cooling (Heat Strategy) is now scheduled for February 2016, when it will be published as part of the winter (legislative) package comprising a revised Security of Gas Supply Regulation and an EU strategy for liquefied natural gas. The Heat Strategy was supposed to be already out on 18 November 2015. The consultation process is now over and the ENER C3 unit of the Directorate General (DG) of Energy is drafting the final version. The photos show the two most important heads of European energy strategies, both with a five-year term up to 2019: Maroš Šefčovič from Slovakia, Vice-President of the European Commission and in charge of the Energy Union (left), and Miguel Arias Cañete from Spain, the commissioner for Energy and Climate Action.
The International Workshop on Concentrating Solar Technologies set a new record in participation: Over 150 delegates attended the event in November in Mumbai organised by the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) under the auspices of the UNDP-GEF project on Concentrated Solar Heat (CSH). Its highlight: the discussions with industry experts and programme officials, during which the industry stakeholders called for greater R&D budgets and a performance-based incentive.
Dr Klaus Vajen is the winner of the Achievement through Action Award of the International Solar Energy Society, ISES. The German professor from the University of Kassel and his research group were presented with the award during the Solar World Congress in South Korea at the beginning of November. The ISES award honours persons who have made significant achievements and contributions toward the advancement of solar energy systems and applications. Vajen joins an illustrious group of previous award recipients from the solar heating and cooling sector, such as Dr Adolf Goetzberger from German Research Institute Fraunhofer ISE (1993), Panos Lamaris, President of Greece collector manufacturer Sole (1999), Werner Weiss, Managing Director of Austrian Research Institute AEE INTEC (2003) and Professor Yin Zhiqiang from Tsinghua University, Beijing (2005). The prize is endowed with USD 1,900.