Approved and successful policies should be promoted – which is why the Southern African Solar Thermal Training and Demonstration Initiative (SOLTRAIN) should be implemented in West Africa as well. Since 2009, the programme has helped train about 2,150 people during 80 courses and install 187 solar thermal systems in the five partner countries Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The coordinator, Austrian organisation AEE INTEC, and the implementing body, ECREEE – ECOWAS Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency based in Cabo Verde, have now launched a similar four-year training and demonstration programme, SOLtrain West Africa, to increase SWH numbers in five additional countries: Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.
The Indian government should provide the same assertive publicity for solar thermal technology as it had for solar PV because the population still needed to be made aware of the benefits of solar water heating. This was the major concern raised during the panel discussion Policy and Regulatory Framework for Solar Water Heater Market Development in India moderated by Jaideep Malaviya (third from right), Secretary General of the Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI). Five industry representatives took part in the event held during the Renewable Energy India Exhibition and Conference 2016 near New Delhi at the beginning of September (from left to right): Rigal Patel (Redsun Solar), Bhoovarahan Thirumalai (Aspiration Energy), Devinder Kaushal (Inter Solar Systems), Saurabh Bhandari (Solarmaxx) and Chandrakant Shah (Kosol Hiramrut Energies).
Renovating multi-storey buildings can be used to create new living space with an additional top floor. That’s where an Austrian consortium led by AEE INTEC comes in: It has developed the Roofbox, an entirely prefabricated modular living space. A Roofbox consists of a bathroom, a kitchen, a separate toilet or living room and bedrooms, and it can be ordered with an active solar water heater system already installed on its roof. Every Roofbox can be transported by an articulated lorry and is rigid enough to be lifted by crane for roof mounting. On 16 September, Austrian Haas Fertigbau showcased in its Großwilfersdorf factory a flat made up of two Roofbox prototypes – which, however, is still missing the solar thermal unit on top (see photo).
How can urban planners be convinced to consider solar energy technologies in municipality projects? This is the key challenge faced by the international group of researchers of Task 51, Solar Energy in Urban Planning. One way to attract interest from these planners is to present them with case studies of successfully implemented solar projects. So the members of Task 51 headed by Maria Wall, Professor at the Energy and Building Design department of Sweden’s Lund University, have collected around 40 solar case studies and are about to design a brochure for all of them. The authors distinguish between three types of studies: new urban areas, existing urban areas and landscapes.
South Africa’s solar process heat installations remain profitable when they have to compete against other heat sources, such as diesel, paraffin, petrol or gas, the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, has concluded in a recently published paper. The researchers at the CRSES conducted a feasibility study of a 120.7 m² collector field that was to cover 60 % of the existing hot water requirements of Cape Brewing Company (CBC) based in Suider-Paarl, Western Cape, and analysed ten proposals submitted after the company’s invitation to tender in January 2015. South African E3 Energy won by offering an installation with a levelised cost of energy of 7.9 EUR cents/kWh, an internal rate of return of 16.7 % and a payback period of 9.3 years. CBC´s daily hot water demand is estimated to be 7,000 litres at 85 °C during 245 days a year, i.e., during a full year except for weekends, public holidays and two weeks of summer holidays. The system went into operation in November 2015 and the COO of CBC, Andy Kung, seems satisfied with the performance and the energy saving it offers.
System cost reduction is one of the most urgent challenges of the solar thermal sector, especially in central Europe. The aim of Task 54 of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme, Price Reduction of Solar Thermal Systems, is to lower solar heat prices by up to 40 %. Germany’s main scientific contributions to the task have come from the two research projects KoST and TEWIsol, which have been co-funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The corresponding Task 54 meeting will take place in Stuttgart on 6/7 October (see the attached programme) in conjunction with a workshop on 5 October to present and discuss KoST and TEWIsol (12 p.m. to 4 p.m.; held in German). The photo shows the Task 54 workshop organised in collaboration with the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation in Brussels in May 2016.
In India, there are multiple indirect taxes levied on most transactions. These taxes are divided into those collected by the federal government and the ones collected by state authorities. At the beginning of August, the Indian parliament passed the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, which aims for a radical overhaul of the country’s tax system by merging federal, state and local taxes and turn India into a “single-tax” country. The GST is expected to improve the way business is conducted, make foreign investment more attractive and increase the gross domestic product by between 1.5 and 2 %. But the renewable energy industry may take a hit, according to statements from members of the Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI). All tax incentives will end under the new GST regime, which is to be implemented by 1 April 2017.
Dubai’s solar thermal obligation has had a positive impact on demand for solar water heating systems across the emirate. Since March 2012, newbuilds with a single owner, such as hotels, workers’ dwellings, private villas, shopping malls and public buildings, have had to cover at least 75 % of their annual hot water requirements by solar energy, provided that enough roof space is available. Proprietors of swimming pools have had to install additional solar thermal systems with a capacity of 50 % or more of the total required for heating these pools (see the attached Dubai Municipality Circular No. 183 from 2011). “Consultancies, building owners and construction companies have since become increasingly aware of the opportunities of solar water heaters,” explained Jim Sebastian Parambil, Managing Director of Ecoval Trading, Dubai, UAE. His company, which specialises in heating and cooling solutions with solar thermal collectors and heat pumps, has been in the business for more than 14 years. The photo shows one of Ecoval’s 2014 systems, which consists of 200 Solahart BT collectors and was installed at the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach.
PVT Modules combine the generation of solar heat and solar electricity. For many years, products have entered and disappeared from the market without leaving much of a trace. German company PA-ID has installed around 8,000 2Power panels, at almost 500 project sites. The 2Power elements consist of standard PV laminates with a polymer heat exchanger at the back, enclosed by insulation. In July, a group toured to the so far largest installation with 121 kWth and 44 kWel in Unterliederbach, a suburb of the German city of Frankfurt.
Usually, the period between September and December is a popular time for holding conferences and fairs. This year is no different. Below, you will find a number of international events dedicated to solar heating and cooling in different corners of the globe. You can also go to the calendar of events for a more comprehensive list of what’s happening during the second half of 2016. Photo: Stephanie Banse