The recent approval of Working Rules means that the Global Solar Certification Network (GSCN) can now accept membership applications. The reuse of test and inspection reports in different certification schemes will be possible at the beginning of 2017. The GSCN was developed in Task 43 of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme to facilitate the cross-border trade of high-quality solar thermal products. The world map shows all the certification schemes which are already on their way into the GSCN – and more are said to follow soon. GSCN industry members can use a collector test report or a production inspection report from one of these schemes to apply for a certificate in another part of the world which is also part of GSCN. The procedure saves manufacturers time and money by removing the need for collector retesting or a second site inspection.
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
System cost reduction is one of the most urgent challenges of the solar thermal sector, especially in central Europe. The aim of Task 54 of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme, Price Reduction of Solar Thermal Systems, is to lower solar heat prices by up to 40 %. Germany’s main scientific contributions to the task have come from the two research projects KoST and TEWIsol, which have been co-funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The corresponding Task 54 meeting will take place in Stuttgart on 6/7 October (see the attached programme) in conjunction with a workshop on 5 October to present and discuss KoST and TEWIsol (12 p.m. to 4 p.m.; held in German). The photo shows the Task 54 workshop organised in collaboration with the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation in Brussels in May 2016.
Tanks with high storage capacity and reduced losses are key to an increased solar heat share in households. Austrian research institute AEE INTEC has recently inaugurated a pilot research facility which promises exactly that: greater storage capacity than water and almost zero energy losses even in seasonal mode. The heart of the test facility are two low-pressure vessels filled with 750 kg of zeolite beads or spheres each. “Our first measurements since the beginning of October were very promising,” confirms Wim van Helden, head of the research project at AEE INTEC. “We reached a storage density of 180 kWh/m³, which has never been achieved before in a device of this size.” The research is part of an EU-funded project called COMTES – Combined Development of Compact Thermal Energy Storage Technologies and was co-financed by the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund. Theresia Vogel (second from left), Managing Director of said fund, joined the official starting ceremony on 11 November 2015.
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.
Brazil is going to implement compulsory certification of solar water heating (SWH) equipment in 2015. Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Mexico already have laboratories for testing, and Costa Rica has recently set up one. Latin America is working through the regional Pan American Standards Commission, COPANT, on regional standards for SWHs, with the aim of harmonising them with ISO standards. The region is not yet considering a common regional testing and certification scheme, but there is a growing consciousness of the fact that testing and certification performance, as well as quality is very important to developing the SWH markets of the region. It is the reason why 50 experts from 14 countries have recently discussed how to accelerate the process: The Regional Forum (from 29 to 30 June 2015) was jointly organised by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the project “Quality Infrastructure for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)” coordinated by the National Metrology Institute of Germany, PTB, the Latin American Energy Organization, OLADE, the Electricity Institute of Costa Rica, ICE, and the National Standards Body of Costa Rica, INTECO. All presentations are available for download on the IRENA website.
German research institute Solites has compared different models of solar heat use in district heating networks by focusing on the economic viability of these projects. The study Solar Heat Networks for Baden-Württemberg – Fundamentals. Potentials. Strategies. published at the beginning of July was supported by the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector of Baden-Württemberg, a federal state in the south of Germany (see the attached document in German). The authors of the study analyse seven different generic types of district heating systems which integrate solar thermal, and they come to the conclusion that type 3, 6 and 7, i.e., applications in small rural district heating systems as well as integrations into existing larger urban district heating systems, generate the lowest solar heat costs. On average, heat costs are around 60 EUR/MWh over a period of 25 years, excluding subsidies. In some cases, they even get below 50 EUR/MWh.
According to the German solar industry association, BSW Solar, and the German heating industry association, BDH, the country saw an 11 % decrease in newly installed solar collector area in 2013, bringing market volume down to 735 MWth (1.05 million m²). The analysis presented by BSW Solar Managing Director, Jörg Mayer, at the Solar Thermal Energy Symposium in Bad Staffelstein pointed most of all to a slump in the German market segment of solar combi systems for domestic hot water and space heating in existing buildings. The symposium, which took place at the end of May, is now in its 24th year and gathered 333 scientists and solar thermal industry representatives from the German-speaking region.
Photo: East-Bavarian Institute for Technology Transfer, OTTI
Two international conferences on solar heating and cooling will take place in Germany at the beginning of June: the Intersolar Europe Conference in Munich from 2 to 4 June 2014 and the Solar District Heating Conference in Hamburg on 3 and 4 June 2014. Both event organisers have now published the complete programme.
Large storage capacity, modular design, high storage density and low heat losses: These are the current requirements for solar thermal heat storage. The result is that hot water storage products are often stretched to their limits. Alternatives could be phase change materials (PCMs) or thermo-chemical materials (TCMs). During the SMEThermal 2014 conference in Berlin, Dr Henner Kerskes, Research Associate at the Research and Testing Centre for Thermal Solar Systems, TZS, of the University of Stuttgart, Germany, and Monte C Magill, Business Development Director at US company Entropy Solutions, explained the design, operation and possibilities of latent heat and thermo-chemical energy storage solutions (see the attached documents).