The IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report or MTRMR 2016 again includes a chapter on renewable heating and cooling – and it’s growing in size. The 282-page document published from Singapore on 25 October analyses on 47 pages the current and future market development of four renewable heating technologies: biomass, solar thermal, geothermal and heat pumps. The IEA began to add a renewable heating chapter to its MTRMR in 2013 – back then, it had only 14 pages. The authors of this year’s edition emphasise the fact that onshore wind and solar PV are the only renewable technologies on track for a 2 °C target.
According to the ISOL Index by solrico and market data from the industry association Austria Solar, the solar thermal industry is heading into another year of declining markets. Low oil prices and corresponding campaigns of the fossil heating industry have had a substantial impact on this renewable technology. The banner shows the slogan “Heizen mit Öl – das zahlt sich aus” (The Benefits of Using Oil to Heat Your Home) on the website of the Austrian mineral oil industry, which offers grants of EUR 2,500 for the installation of a condensing oil boiler in a single-family building. Austria Solar has also criticised the reduction in the renewable budget of the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund as well as the complicated incentive scheme rules throughout the states. The large-scale project market is what keeps the industry alive.
Driving down the costs of solar thermal systems is not only about cheaper collector production. In fact, post-production processes, such as sales, installation and maintenance account for up to 50 % of the price the end customer will have to pay. The new IEA SHC Task 54, Price Reduction of Solar Thermal Systems, wants to investigate those factors and find ways to reduce system costs. The kick-off meeting on 21 to 22 October will be hosted by Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg, Germany. Researchers and industry representatives from all over the world have been invited to participate. The task spans over three years and includes on average two two-day experts meetings per year.
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).
In their position paper published in August 2015, the scientists of IEA SHC Task 42 (Compact Thermal Energy Storage) summed up the key results of their work between 2009 and 2015. Operating agent Matthias Rommel sees huge potential for latent heat and sorption materials in the long run – in seasonal solar heat storage for small and medium applications, as well as in the building sector. So-called smart grids will also require more heat storage units when devices such as heat pumps and co-generation plants are based on electricity grid requirements. Rommel views the definition of measurement standards for PCM materials as one of the task’s big achievements, which will help in material development. Furthermore, a research group from German research institute ZAE Bayern has performed a first cost estimate of compact heat storage technologies.
“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.
Which countries are currently attractive markets for solar process heat? Different sources give different answers to this question. The chart above shows the assessment of the solar industry. More than 30 % of the Austrian solar collector manufacturers in the two surveys in 2012 and 2013 assumed that solar process heat was the fastest-growing segment in their national market. More than every tenth manufacturer in Germany, Mexico and France shared their opinion. The figure in brackets behind the country stands for the number of surveys analysed. Some of the countries, such as Germany, India, Mexico and France, have a support scheme in place which focuses on solar process heat systems.
Over 40 % of primary energy use and 24 % of greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to global energy use in buildings so architects and builders are being posed the challenge of creating highly energy-efficient structures. One vision promoted by stakeholders in many countries worldwide is Net Zero Energy Buildings (NetZEBs). To provide an analysis of the market potential and the actions required for a market uptake of this architectural design approach, the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme published a position paper entitled SHC Net Zero Energy Solar Buildings in June. The 10-page summary is based on the insights of 82 experts from 19 countries, who have been conducting research within a joint IEA SHC Task 40 and Annex 52 of the Energy in Buildings and Communities Programme (EBCP) over several years (see the attached document). The photos show three French NetZEBs: a university research building on the tropical Island of La Reunion, an office building in Paris and a school in the city of Poitou‐Charentes.
Source: SHC Task 40/EBC Annex 42, A review of 30 NetZEB case studies worldwide
The solar thermal industry created about 11,400 jobs in Germany in 2013, according to a comprehensive job study called Employment by the renewable sector in Germany. Development and operation, today and tomorrow financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, BMWi, and published by the German Institute for Economic Research, DIW, in March 2015 (see the attached PDF in German). Its authors find that direct and indirect employment in the solar thermal subsector had then diminished by 6.6 % compared to 2012. Only 3.1 % of all jobs created by renewable energies in Germany, e.g., 371,400 jobs, showed a relation to solar heating and cooling. The study is based on two former job studies on the German renewable energy sector in 2006 and 2011. The Working Group on Renewable Energy Statistics, AGEE, which was established in 2004, contributed a large portion of the data.
It is the most comprehensive publication on the global solar water heating market: the annual study Solar Heat Worldwide. On behalf of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (SHC), Austrian research institute AEE INTEC has gathered data on 2013 market development from 56 countries worldwide – covering 95 % of the world market. The institute has asked national stakeholders for newly installed capacity, type of technology and application. Accumulating such detailed information at global level gives a comprehensive overview of the world market for solar heating and cooling. According to an extrapolation of the missing 5 %, installers set up a total capacity of 55 GWth – or 78.6 million m2 of glazed and unglazed solar collectors – in these 56 countries. The pie charts show the growing importance of large domestic hot water applications in multi-family buildings as well as the tourism and public sector (see page 36/37 of the attached study). In 2013, 17 % of the newly installed collector capacity was installed in this segment (right), whereas it only accounts for 9 % of the total installed collector capacity in operation (left). The number of unglazed solar collectors for private swimming pools has diminished worldwide. Although they still make up 6 % of the total capacity, they only contributed 3 % to the new collector capacity in 2013. With 577 MWth (0.8 million m2) of newly installed capacity in 2013, non-residential applications, such as district heating, process heat and cooling, are still a real niche market.