Poland’s Mazovia Region is one of nine regional actors which have worked together with the Institute for Renewable Energy (IEO, formerly EC BREC), the Polish partner, on the Horizon 2020 project SDHp2m: Solar District Heating – From Policy to Market. On 16 March 2017, IEO organised a workshop where 60 stakeholders from the district heating industry and municipal authorities and researchers met to discuss the details of strategies and activities which could support the development of SDH or solar district heating. Solarthermalword.org sat down with IEO’s Aneta Więcka to talk about opportunities, barriers and the current situation of the SDH market in the Mazovia Region and the rest of country.
After France had become involved in a couple of EU-supported projects as a newcomer, the country is now ready for take-off in the solar district heating (SDH) market. Monitoring data from the first two French pilot plants show performance to be quite good and the systems to be highly reliable. The chart depicting the performance of the 458 m2 evacuated tube collector field in Balma-Gramont was presented by Fabrice Renaud, Research Engineer in the R&D centre Cylergie at the French group Engie, during the 4th International Solar District Heating Conference in Billund, Denmark. There is also a new strategy document being devised to advance the development of SDH in the French region of Auvergne – Rhône-Alpes.
The 4th International Solar District Heating (SDH) Conference, which had been organised under the auspices of Horizon 2020 project SDHp2m…from Policy to Market on 21/22 September 2016 in Denmark, showed the importance of analysing real-life monitoring data from European SDH plants, with one conference session (Advanced SDH systems II) dedicated exclusively to the topic. These kinds of comparisons enable an understanding of the actual performance of such large collector fields and offer an opportunity for optimising power output and for creating best-practice examples of new plants. For example, the chart displays ten years’ worth of monitoring data from the German plant in Crailsheim, which has met solar yield expectations.
Source: Attached SDH conference presentation from ITW
The first and so far unique solar district heating plant in Italy completed its first year in operation in mid-May this year. According to metering by the operator of the 990 m² collector field, utility Varese Risorse, output was significantly higher than expected. The chart shows the total output measured over almost 12 months: It was 13 % higher than the target figure. The solar district heating plant was developed and installed by a newly founded Italian company, SDH Energy, which also guaranteed the solar yield (red line).
The latest statistics of Conto Termico in Italy show that the national incentive scheme has still not been used enough: As of 1 January 2016, it had supported only 62 solar thermal plants for public buildings, while the private sector figure was 10,634. Assuming an average plant size of 7 m², as estimated by Gestore dei Servizi Energetici (GSE), this corresponds to a total subsidised collector area of 75,000 m² – a fairly low result over the 30 months of the scheme. The subsidy volume for solar thermal now amounts to about EUR 27.5 million, around half of the total incentives which have so far been distributed by Conto Termico. This is again a rather small figure compared to an originally planned budget of EUR 900 million. GSE, the state-owned administrator of Conto Termico, has therefore modified the scheme rules.
The European Commission introduced its work programme 2016/2017 for the R&D funding programme Horizon 2020 during two info days in Brussels on 14 and 15 September. One of the first presentations was by Paul Verhoef, Head of the Renewable Energy Sources unit at the EU’s DG Research & Innovation, who showed that solar thermal has so far been gravely underfinanced during the 2014-2015 calls. The cumulated budget for solar heating and cooling was EUR 4.4 million out of a total of EUR 554 million, which means a share of less than 1 %. The pie chart, which depicts the allocation of the precisely EUR 553.8 million during 2014 and 2015, makes clear that energy sources such as ocean-based ones have received almost 10 times as much funding (EUR 41.4 million), and the Biofuels/Bioenergy sector has received an almost 20 times larger share of the total budget (EUR 83 million).
Italian turnkey system provider Reseda has carried out a research project, called SolarCIP, to investigate the real performance of a number of solar thermal installations after they have been in operation for some years now. From 2007 to 2009, Reseda staff inspected 430 mostly residential hot water systems onsite to analyse the performance and detect common failures. The pie chart shows the overall research results with only 15 % of best practice cases. 10 % of the plants were not operating at all, often because fluid leakage from the pipes or an incorrect expansion vessel size had forced the systems dry.
Legambiente, one of the major environmental associations in Italy, releases a report every year on the diffusion of renewables at local level, highlighting the role of municipalities and stressing their commitment, for instance, to renewable use in public buildings (see the attached document in Italian). For nine years, this report titled Renewable Municipalities (Comuni Rinnovabili in Italian) has shown maps, rankings and best-practice examples to illustrate the deployment of the different clean technologies: The current study, published in May 2015, listed 6,803 Italian municipalities with solar thermal installations from a total number of about 8,000 in 2014. This represents a huge increase from the 108 municipalities having solar water heating installed in their community in the first survey in 2005. The map displays the cumulated solar capacity at regional level at the end of 2014, with the red areas pointing to broad solar water heater usage.
The administrator of Italy’s national subsidy scheme Conto Termico, Gestore dei Servizi Energetici (GSE), counted 9,658 applications over the first 18 months, among them 7,720 which reached the contract phase before the end of 2014. According to a recent GSE study called Performance Report on Conto Termico, solar water heating systems have been the technology of choice for 71 % of the approved applications, followed by biomass boilers with 24.5 %, although the gap between solar thermal and biomass stands wider in the southern regions of Italy (see attached document in Italian). The majority of subsidised solar water heaters have a size below 5 m² of collector area, as can be seen on the chart to the right, which shows all 5,443 approved solar applications. There are only 5 systems above 50 m² among the approved applications.