On 24 November, the fifth Solar Heat Switzerland (Solarwärme Schweiz) conference organised by the solar industry association Swissolar, the building services association suissetec and the Federal Office of Energy was held in Lucerne, Switzerland. As 2017 funding for solar heat incentives remains in doubt in several cantons and the priorities of the country´s energy policy haven’t been announced yet, the market outlook for solar thermal has not been very encouraging. But there seems to be a ray of hope in the form of low-temperature collectors for borehole regeneration and solar district heating. Click here to download the German-language presentations from the conference.
Usually, the period between September and December is a popular time for holding conferences and fairs. This year is no different. Below, you will find a number of international events dedicated to solar heating and cooling in different corners of the globe. You can also go to the calendar of events for a more comprehensive list of what’s happening during the second half of 2016. Photo: Stephanie Banse
In 2015, the solar collector area newly installed in Switzerland shrunk by 16 % compared to 2014. Imports outperformed domestic production, and larger systems for multi-family and commercial buildings, particularly those with vacuum tubes, have gained market shares. These are some of the key findings of the annual study published by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (see attached study in German and French). Some cantons will completely halt incentives for solar heat because of budget restrictions.
The global solar thermal market went into another year of notable decline in 2015. With 37.2 GWth, the newly installed glazed and unglazed collector capacity in the 18 largest countries was 14 % lower than in 2014 (43.4 GWth). Between 2013 and 2014, the decrease in these 18 major countries – which represent 95-97 % of the world market – had been 15 %. The further slowdown last year was the result of diminishing collector area figures in China (-17 %), and in Europe (nine biggest nations down by -5 %). The countries with the highest growth rates last year were Denmark (+55 %), Turkey (+10 %), Israel (+9 %) and Mexico (+8 %). The chart shows both 2015’s newly installed collector area, broken down by collector type – flat plate, vacuum tube and unglazed collector area, and the 2014-2015 growth rate (excluding China, whose 2015 market volume was 21-times larger than Turkey, which ranked second). China added 30.5 GWth in 2015 of which 12.6 % were flat plate collectors (5.5 million m2).
In June, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy published its annual solar market report carried out by the solar energy association Swissolar (see the attached document in German and French). In 2014, sales of glazed collectors dropped by 7 %, down to 113,000 m² of absorber area. Vacuum tube collectors had a share of 13 %. The statistics also include 4,487 m² of unglazed collectors. The chart shows the shares of the different collector technologies over the years.
On 9 January 2015, the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Energy Directors agreed on nationwide model rules for building energy codes. These rules include a nearly zero energy standard for new buildings from 2020 onwards and a 10 % renewable requirement for heating system retrofits. Although Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, the country’s energy standards are similar to what the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU) requires from member states.
The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) has just published a study on end customer prices for solar thermal systems in Switzerland. It turns out that, including installation, a typical Swiss solar thermal system configuration for a single-family home costs almost twice as much in Switzerland as they would in neighbouring Austria and about 30 % more than in southern Germany (see chart on the left). High labour costs and quality standards account for much of the price difference, but they cannot explain all of it. The study, which was carried out by Swiss company Ernst Basler + Partner, includes measures that can be taken to reduce prices on the market (see the attached document in German).
Instead of the 12% decline expected by the Swiss Solar Industry Association, Swissolar, in December 2012, the Swiss market for glazed solar thermal collectors grew by 3.1 % in 2012 compared to 2011, increasing to 99.4 MWth(142,000 m2) of newly installed capacity. Despite the good news from Swissolar’s market evaluation, the association’s General Manager at the Zurich office, David Stickelberger, does not see much room for optimism. “We have not seen any statistics for 2013 yet, but from what I hear from our members, it’s an unpleasant situation,” he says.
In 2011, the newly-installed collector area for hot water and space heating in Switzerland increased by around 1.5% compared to the previous year. This is the result of a recent market survey that has been conducted on behalf of the Swiss industry association Swissolar. A total of 100,000 solar thermal systems have been installed on Swiss roofs by now. But according to Swissolar, this number represents only a small fraction of the country’s solar thermal potential. Photo: helvetic energy
Orders for large solar storage tanks are on the rise: Swiss Jenni Energietechnik AG is currently expanding its production capacity to meet the greatly increased demand. At its Oberburg headquarters, the solar company is constructing a new building for the manufacturing of large storage tanks. According to CEO Josef Jenni, the additional facility will enable the company to produce five times as much as before. Photo: Jenni Energietechnik AG