German company Consolar offers a heating system called SOLAERA, which combines a heat pump with a specially designed solar collector and a heat storage space using the latent heat released when water freezes to ice (see photo). The solar heat pump system with 18 m² of collector area, a 300 litre ice storage space and a 1,000 litre buffer tank provides enough energy to heat a well-insulated building in Germany. In a field test by a local environment group, Lokale Agenda 21, it achieved a Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF) of 5.6, putting performance even above prior simulations. The SPF describes the ratio of delivered heat to electricity consumed over the entire year. Consolar sold about 160 solar heat pump systems in total, mostly in Germany but also in Denmark, the UK, Switzerland, Belgium, France and Italy. The systems there achieved SPFs between 3.5 and 6, depending on collector field size, maximum flow temperature and heat demand.
In May 2014, Germany will have a new Energy Savings Ordinance, the EnEV 2014. From 2015 on, the regulation will require the replacement of oil and gas boilers that are older than 30 years if they are not subject to one of the many exemptions. It might bring solar thermal an increased market volume, as new fossil boilers are often supplemented by solar collector systems. But in case of new buildings, the regulation favours heat pumps, making it likely for solar thermal to lose market shares.