Two continents meet in Istanbul, in a metropolis of 15 million. More than 230 researchers and industry representatives from five continents used this strategic spot for their participation in SHC2015, a high-level conference which took place at the beginning of December and focused on solar heating and cooling technologies as well as their related markets. The three-day event organised by the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme in cooperation with the German company PSE and the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) presented a mix of technological innovations, the latest research results, service tools for planners and designers of complex solar heating and cooling installations, and it offered a lot of room for discussions on market and technology developments from different countries and regions. This news piece will highlight some of the key aspects of the conference and will be followed by a number of solarthermalworld.org articles over the coming weeks, each with their own special focus.
India´s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has invited the sun-rich countries between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn to join an International Solar Alliance (ISA). Modi’s aim is to create a collaborative platform for an increased deployment of solar energy technologies, which will enhance energy security as well as sustainable development, improve access to energy and opportunities for better livelihoods in rural and remote areas and increase living standards. The prime minister will use the gathering of the head of states at the Climate Change Conference in Paris to establish ISA. The photo shows Modi in discussion with African delegates during the India-Africa Forum Summit in October 2015. “When the sun sets, tens of millions of homes in India and Africa become dark. We want to light up the lives of our people and power their future," Modi said during this meeting, according to Indian media.
Since October, a new government has been at the helm in Canada under Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau's conservative predecessor, Stephen Harper, who had been in office for nine years, had encountered increasing criticism by the Canadian population because of his climate-damaging policies and his close ties to the oil and gas industry. According to the study Solar Heat Worldwide by Austrian research institute AEE INTEC, the newly installed collector area in Canada declined between 2011 and 2013 from 127,412 m² to 58,067 m². Accordingly high are now expectations of the new government regarding climate change and the environment. Canadian collector manufacturers are hoping for the return of solar thermal-friendly policies. solarthermalworld.org has talked with them about their wishes and expectations.
With 1.9 million m² of collector area newly installed in 2014 (1.33 GWth), Turkey was again the second-largest solar thermal market after China last year. The share of vacuum tube collectors had increased significantly over the years, but stagnated in 2014 at 44 % of total market volume. The annual market statistic in the chart has been provided by Kutay Ülke, Export Manager of Ezinç Metal, one of the largest solar water heater manufacturers in Turkey. The annual study Solar Heat Worldwide from Austrian research institute AEE INTEC uses these industry-based figures for Turkey in all of its latest issues. There are no regular official statistics – neither by the government, nor by GÜNDER, the Turkish Section of the International Solar Energy Society, whose members make up a big part of the national solar thermal industry. In its current publications on the Turkish solar thermal market, GÜNDER uses a more general estimate of “at least 1.5 million m² of collector area” being produced and installed per year.
Costa Ricans currently spend up to 40 % of their electricity bill on hot water supply. With an average annual increase of 5.3 %, the demand for electricity has quadrupled over the last 20 years and prices have more than doubled during the same period. Therefore, one should assume solar water heaters to be popular in a country where solar irradiation is as high as 2,100 W per m² and year. Unfortunately, the Costa Rican Statistical Office does not provide any figures on the total collector area installed across the country.
Tanks with high storage capacity and reduced losses are key to an increased solar heat share in households. Austrian research institute AEE INTEC has recently inaugurated a pilot research facility which promises exactly that: greater storage capacity than water and almost zero energy losses even in seasonal mode. The heart of the test facility are two low-pressure vessels filled with 750 kg of zeolite beads or spheres each. “Our first measurements since the beginning of October were very promising,” confirms Wim van Helden, head of the research project at AEE INTEC. “We reached a storage density of 180 kWh/m³, which has never been achieved before in a device of this size.” The research is part of an EU-funded project called COMTES – Combined Development of Compact Thermal Energy Storage Technologies and was co-financed by the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund. Theresia Vogel (second from left), Managing Director of said fund, joined the official starting ceremony on 11 November 2015.
The One World Solar Collector developed by Austrian company Sunlumo finally received a Solar Keymark certificate in October 2015 (see the attached PDF). This is a milestone in the long design and development process, which started in 2009. “We designed a completely new collector model optimising weight, performance, logistics and raw materials,” Robert Buchinger (left), Managing Director of Sunlumo, says about the long term R&D project. The photo, which was taken at machinery supplier Fill’s booth at the 2014 edition of Fakuma, the international trade fair for plastics processing, in Germany, shows Buchinger and Wilhelm Rupertsberger, Head of Competence Center Polymer Technology at FilI, holding up the pilot collector with a gross collector area of 0.95 m² and a weight of only 8.1 kg. Sunlumo is looking for investors who want to purchase a complete production line as well as the license and produce the polymer collector locally. The One World Solar Collector is the third 100 % polymer collector with a Solar Keymark certificate. The other two are Eco Flare 3M by Israeli manufacturer Magen Eco Energy and a collector from Norway’s Aventa.
Overcapacities in the collector industry, declining demand and the associated drop in collector prices have given European manufacturers a hard time. Over the last 12 months, four well-known collector manufacturers in four different countries have had serious financial troubles: Watt in Poland, Astersa in Spain, Solvis in Germany and Clipsol in France all followed fairly different approaches to cope with their financial problems. Only one, Astersa, has disappeared from the market – the other three manufacturers are still in business. The photo shows the inauguration of Watt´s production unit in Poland in 2011 which is put on hold at the moment.
São Paulo’s around 30,000 new building permits per year and a municipality bylaw (Number 14449/2007) which has required construction companies to make solar water heating part of almost every newbuild since 2008 have created expectations for a flourishing solar thermal sector in this Brazilian city. Independent consultancies estimate that the local solar obligation has led to 110,000 m² of collector area installed at residential buildings.
The Indian industry imports 80 % of the oil it consumes for heating, boiling, drying or other purposes. The government of India has spent USD 112.748 billion in financial year 2014-15 on the import of these 189.43 million tons of crude oil. Solar thermal is seen as a key technology for reducing government spending and greenhouse gas emissions in the industry on the subcontinent. Despite being heavily subsidised, solar process heat installations are still rare across the country. Now, the solar thermal industry is calling for additional regulations in form of a Renewable Heating Obligation to speed up the deployment of solar thermal technology in the manufacturing sector. The photo shows a solar concentrating system on the roof of bearing manufacturer SKF Technologies in Mysore in southern India.