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Solar and biomass – a winning solution for district heating

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 18, 2018
Photo: Riccardo BattistiBiomass may be cheap and carbon-neutral, but a solar upgrade of biomass-fired district heating could further improve efficiency and reduce local emissions. For example, solar heat helps avoid having to start up and shut down wood-chip boilers or operate them at partial load. It can even replace backup fossil fuel systems, which provide district heating networks with energy in summer. During a December 2017 webinar, held as part of the Horizon 2020 project SDHp2m…From Policy to Market, experts from Sweden and Austria showed promising case studies for a clever combination of biomass and solar thermal in district heating.
Photo: Riccardo Battisti

Solar cooling increases annual solar fraction

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 24, 2018
Task 53 1Solar cooling could be an effective way to increase the annual solar fraction of domestic hot water production and prevent the solar system from overheating in summer. Under the aegis of the IEA Solar Heating & Cooling Programme, researchers from Task 53, New Generation Solar Cooling & Heating Systems, have written a new book, titled The Solar Cooling Design Guide: Case Studies of Successful Solar Air Conditioning Design. It includes a detailed case study of two buildings containing offices and flats in Montpellier, France. The on-site 240 m² flat plate collector system powers a 35-kW absorption chiller to achieve a 70 % solar fraction in annual hot water production (see photo). Between November and March, the system continues to provide around 40 % of the heating energy to meet hot water demand.
Photo: Tecsol/Serm

Thermosiphon market rebounds in Italy

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 16, 2018
Photo: Riccardo BattistiSystem suppliers and importers in Italy have reported significant growth in thermosiphon sales in 2017 thanks to the national support scheme Conto Termico 2.0. “Compared to the previous year, we more than doubled the number of thermosiphon units we sold in Italy in 2017, and most systems had a larger collector area because of the level of subsidies from Conto Termico 2.0,” said Export Sales Manager Andreas Andrianopoulos from Greek-based solar thermal manufacturer Cosmosolar. 
Photo: Riccardo Battisti

District heating shows lower total socio-economic cost in future energy system

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on January 31, 2018
Costs for ST 1What would the economic impact on a future energy system be if one were to unlock the full solar thermal potential in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Italy? According to a study conducted by Aalborg University as part of the IEA SHC Task 52 research project Solar Heat and Energy Economics in Urban Environments, exploiting the maximum potential will result in significant cost reductions if solar heat is supplied not individually but by district heating. The graph shows small changes of between -0.1 % and +0.2 % in total socio-economic cost both in the District Heating scenario (expansion of district heating grids) and the Heat Savings one (retrofits reduce heat demand in buildings) when the maximum solar thermal potential is realised by using either decentralised solutions or district heating to supply heat to consumers. The key factor influencing the outcome is the cost of solar thermal systems. 
Graph: Aalborg University

Solar-heated hotels in MENA region

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on January 29, 2018
GIZ Hotel BroschureSolar thermal can easily provide cheap, secure and clean heat to drive growth in the tourism sector. But what about optimal system sizes and applications? A new brochure has been trying to find answers to this question. Titled Solar PV & Thermal Applications for Hotel Sector, it has been created jointly by the German Agency for International Cooperation and the Egyptian Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency as part of a project called Re-Activate: Promoting Employment through Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in the MENA Region.

French SOCOL network analyses market drivers and barriers

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on January 10, 2018
EnerplanThe SOCOL network has become more involved than ever in shaping the future of the French solar thermal sector, having grown quickly from just 155 experts in 2013 to 2,500 today. Great efforts are being made to improve the image of solar thermal as a cost-effective, reliable technology for commercial applications. Despite the favourable environment, the French market has experienced a notable decline over recent years. Preliminary data from 2017 shows the newly installed collector to have been as little as 50,000 m², a decrease of 15 % compared to the year prior. Only multi-family properties and large-scale systems seem to be bucking the trend. 
Source: Uniclima

Solar thermal plays minor role in Italy’s energy strategy

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on December 15, 2017
SEN LogoSolar thermal had been mentioned in only five lines in the first draft of Italy’s National Energy Strategy in June 2017, before public consultation took place. The aim of the document has been to set objectives and provide scenarios for national energy supply and demand until 2030. The country’s Ministry of Economic Development, which developed the Strategia Energetica Nazionale (SEN), received more than 1,000 comments in June and September 2017 and published its final version on 10 November 2017 (find both documents attached). Though the strategy paper contains promising renewable and energy efficiency targets, solar thermal – and heating and cooling in general – will continue to play second fiddle to natural gas.

EU Funding for Solutions to Decarbonise Heating and Cooling Market

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on November 19, 2017
Horizon 2020A search for ‘solar thermal’ in a recently published 195-page document titled Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy will not return encouraging results (see the attached document). The publication by the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020 shows only 6 entries in total. “Solar thermal is definitely not a priority of the new programme,” said Daniel Mugnier, Head of R&D at French engineering services company Tecsol. “And even if the European Solar Thermal Technology & Innovation Platform were to try to promote several hot topics, there’s only one call [LC-SC3-RES-7-2019 on solar process heat] dedicated to the technology.”

Switzerland: Current CO2 Tax Does Little to Help Solar Thermal

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on November 16, 2017
Oil price chartThe solar thermal market in Switzerland has been shrinking for the past years because of increasing competition from photovoltaics and heat pumps. Additionally, the low oil price has led to a wait-and-see attitude among potential customers. The market continues to show no signs of an upturn despite the introduction of a CO2 tax on fossil fuels around 10 years ago. This tax, however, has done little to compensate for the one-third reduction in oil prices in 2015 and 2016. A more suitable alternative would be a levy linked to oil and gas prices.
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office

Italy: Solar District Heating Shows Few Installations but Good Prospects

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on November 11, 2017
Ambiente ItaliaSubstantial solar resources and a generous incentive scheme called Conto Termico 2.0: Perfect conditions, it seems, for the widespread use of solar district heating. But barriers such as a low gas price and the concentration of district heating in a small part of Italy have so far limited deployment to a few installed systems. The map shows the three existing SDH plants in Varese, Sansicario and Lodi (red circles). A fourth with a gross area of about 600 m² is expected to come online in 2020 to feed heat into Turin’s district network operated by the Iren Group utility (yellow cirle).
Source: Ambiente Italia


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