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On-site collector testing: new standard in development

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on May 17, 2018
Photo: Riccardo BattistiOnce a large solar field is set up at its designated location, what tests can be conducted to show that it performs as expected? Soon, the IEA Solar Heating & Cooling Programme may have an answer to this question, as it is working on internationalising Denmark’s testing procedure. No decision has been made on whether the procedure will become part of a full-fledged standard or be turned into a technical specification. 
Photo: Riccardo Battisti

How to identify suitable areas for SDH

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on May 9, 2018
Chart: Hamburg InstitutThough the availability of areas for large solar district heating plants remains a major point of contention, there are ways to expand the market. They include detailed local heat plans, the use of unconventional, e.g., polluted or contaminated, areas, and awareness raising among public and private stakeholders. A webinar organised as part of the Horizon 2020 project SDHp2m…from Policy to Market put a spotlight on these topics in February. A recording of the session is available online.
Chart: Hamburg Institut
 

Building-integrated solar envelopes: barriers to deployment

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on May 2, 2018
Solar FacadeActive and passive solar systems integrated into building envelopes are key to combatting climate change. However, there are many barriers which confine current solutions to the demonstration stage and prevent them from going mainstream. To increase the size of the market, researchers have examined these barriers as part of Task 56, Building Integrated Solar Envelope Systems for HVAC and Lighting, under the auspices of the IEA Solar Heating & Cooling Programme. Their report will not be available until September 2018, but this article contains a summary of the main conclusions.
Photo: Riccardo Battisti

Sweden: Pioneer of solar district heating

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on April 13, 2018
Chart: Sven WernerWhen it comes to district heating, Sweden has made the switch from fossil fuels to biomass and waste heat (see chart). As early as 2015, biomass provided 46 % of the energy in district heating networks across the country, followed by 24 % from waste incineration and 8 % from industrial excess heat. Fossil fuels came only to about 7 % of the around 175 petajoules, or PJ, produced in Sweden in 2015 (latest data available). These percentages, and the chart, were taken from a 2017 paper titled District heating and cooling in Sweden, written by Sven Werner, Professor Emeritus at the Swedish Halmstad University. Sweden is one of the participating countries of Task 55 Towards the Integration of Large SHC Systems into DHC Networks of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling programme. The researchers plan to publish a report with country portraits of selected solar district heating markets in 2019. 
Chart: Sven Werner

IEA SHC Webinar: Cost reduction potential above 30 %

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on April 5, 2018
Chart: AventaThe key takeaway from an IEA SHC Solar Academy webinar held on 14 March 2018: There is still much room for cost cuts along the entire solar thermal value chain. The webinar was organised jointly by the IEA Solar Heating & Cooling Programme’s Task 54 and the International Solar Energy Society.
Chart: Aventa

Solar thermal 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.
Image: GIZ, RCREEE
 

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