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).
“The Renewable Heat Incentive in the United Kingdom has failed to stimulate the market for solar thermal, which continues to contract. There are technical issues in the regulations preventing the use of solar thermal with other renewable heating systems, such as biomass and heat pumps, and the subsidy rate is relatively low compared to the feed-in tariff for solar photovoltaics.” This clear statement was made by Dr Robert Edwards, Director in the Science and Innovation Group at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). He represents the country in the Executive Committee of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC) research programme and delivered an updated country profile of the British solar thermal market in June 2015. As part of its services, the IEA SHC programme publishes updated market profiles of all 20 member countries each year. You will find the list of member countries online and the link to the country profile at the bottom of each country page. The statement by Edwards is part of the latest UK country profile.
Finally some good news from Germany, the largest market in Europe, which declined for four years in a row between 2011 and 2014. After a very sluggish first quarter in 2015, demand for solar thermal systems was increasing over the summer months because of the increased subsidy levels of the German Market Rebate Programme for Renewable Energies since April 2015. The number of applications for solar thermal systems in June and July was 31 % higher than in the previous year. The chart shows the applications submitted per month, with the green columns depicting 2014 and the orange columns representing 2015. And there is more good news for the sector: the announced energy label for existing heating boilers.
Source: Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control, BAFA
If there were an award for the most transparent support programme in the field of solar heating and cooling, then the California Solar Initiative (CSI) – Thermal Program would get the prize. The CSI-T programme offers a regularly updated and publicly available Excel file of all submitted, approved and paid applications, and this file also includes an amazing amount of additional information, such as collector size, system supplier, contractor for the installation, total project costs or the application itself. The chart above, provided by Lewis Bichkoff, Lead Analyst of the CSI Thermal Program at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), shows the subsidised and installed collector area per year. The annual volume shows significant growth from 953 m² (10,247 ft²) installed and granted during the first year to 36,641 m² (394,401 ft²) in 2014. In 2014, there was a noticeable dominance of pool heating systems, which made up 71 % of the total subsidised collector area.
Dai Yanjun is among the key solar cooling researchers in China. In cooperation with the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC) Programme, the professor with more than 15 years of experience in solar cooling research at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) organised the Solar Cooling Week in Shanghai in March. Since 2005, he is Professor at the Institute of Refrigeration and Cryogenics and sees the most promising research being done in the field of thermally driven chillers which fit to standard flat plate and vacuum tube collectors on the market. He also participates in the development of solutions for areas with high humidity.
The sixth invitation to tender for large-scale solar thermal systems in Austria is still accepting applications until 24 September. The Austrian Climate and Energy Fund has again allocated a budget of EUR 5.9 million for installing collector fields of between 100 and 2,000 m2 for process heat, district heating, solar cooling, systems with high solar coverage above 20 % in trade and business and innovative technologies. The subsidy covers 40 % of the additional, environmentally relevant costs of the installation and grants a 5 % bonus for small and medium enterprises. As in the past, applicants must consult with experts from one of the three selected Austrian research institutes before submitting their proposal. Over the first five years, the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund spent EUR 17,258,324 on 163 projects. The pie chart shows the distribution of the 163 approved projects broken down by application.
Figure: Austrian Climate and Energy Fund