With a solar radiation of up to 2,550 kWh/m², Saudi Arabia seems destined to be a frequent user of solar thermal energy. Solar heating and cooling, however, are not very common in the Kingdom. A new housing programme launched by the government is now adding solar water heating to the list of eligible technologies, albeit companies selling to Saudi Arabia have so far only reported a small number of prestigious projects. The photo shows a solar cooling demonstration plant at the headquarters of the kingdom’s oil company, Aramco, in Dhahran. The system, which came into operation in November 2014, offers high-vacuum flat MT-Power panels by Swiss manufacturer TVP Solar and runs a double-effect absorption chiller with 180 °C to produce cold air for Saudi Aramco's Al-Munirah Community Library. Still, solar thermal energy seems to remain a niche market in the eyes of the government, which has just published a new energy strategy for the coming years – the policy document primarily mentions PV, CSP and nuclear energy to offset the rising domestic consumption of the nation’s main export commodity: oil.
From 2 to 4 December 2015, the SHC2015 conference in Istanbul brought together 233 researchers, industry specialists and other experts on solar heating and cooling. With 14 video interviews filmed at the conference, solarthermalworld.org highlighted the trends and pinpointed the crucial issues of today's global solar heating and cooling sector. The videos were jointly financed by the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme and the European Copper Association. They are available for download on the solarthermalworld.org YouTube channel.
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.
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 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 French energy agency Ademe has been supporting renewable heat production in the industry, the district heating sector and at multi-family buildings since 2009. The budget of the national subsidy scheme, Fonds Chaleur (Heat Fund), will double in amount from around EUR 240 million per year to EUR 420 million in 2017. During 2009 to 2014, solar installations accounted for as little as 6 % of Fonds Chaleur's EUR 1.2 billion (see the attached report). Despite the high subsidy amount, the number of solar thermal applications is declining, as is the French solar market in general. Ademe is trying to counter the negative trend by offering new incentive schemes to address the large solar systems segments.
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.
The development of the international solar heating and cooling markets is posing great challenges: Whereas the residential market has been on the decline, market demand is shifting towards complex industrial solutions, large-scale plants for solar district heating and innovative solutions for building integration. The leading international solar thermal conference, the SHC2015, will address these key issues facing the industry. The three-day event will take place in Istanbul between 2 and 4 December 2015. The conference programme of SHC2015 has now been available online.
Diligent research on small scale low-temperature chillers, the launch of a new generation of compact solar cooling units and large-scale plants able to compete economically with conventional cooling solutions: These are just some of the main trends which were discussed during the 6th International Conference on Solar Air-Conditioning organised by German company East-Bavarian Institute for Technology Transfer, OTTI, Rome, Italy, on 24/25 September. The photo shows Conference Chairwoman Prof Ursula Eicker from the University of Applied Sciences, Stuttgart, Germany (forth from left in first row) together with the international scientific committee consisting of researchers from Germany, Spain, Greece, Italy, France, China, Austria and Cyprus.
The workshop New Generation Solar Cooling & Heating Systems held in Rome, Italy, on 23 September 2015 was the opportunity to check the status of both research on and market developments in solar cooling technology. The half-day event, which had about 40 participants, was jointly organised by Task 53 of the IEA Solar Heating & Cooling Programme and the German Eastbavarian Institute for Technology Transfer, OTTI e.V., and took place a day before the start of OTTI’s 6th International Conference on Solar Air-Conditioning. Above all, the workshop provided a platform for presenting the first outcomes of the international research cooperation TASK 53 entitled New Generation Solar Cooling & Heating Systems, which was launched in March 2014, will end in 2017 and involves 10 countries, some from outside Europe (see the attached introductory presentation).