Spain’s solar thermal market experienced a year-on-year drop of 12 % in 2016 and ended up at 212,190 m2 (149 MWth) of newly installed collector area. As in 2015, the main reasons for the contraction were the lack of finished newbuilds and the end of regional incentives, such as the ones in the Spanish region of Andalusia. However, the construction industry is slowly starting to recover and new government incentives may boost the market this year. Additionally, local manufacturers have expanded their export business. All in all, the country’s solar thermal industry generated a turnover of EUR 170 million in 2016 and employed 4,250 people. These and other results can be found in the annual report published by the Spanish solar thermal association ASIT last week (see the attached PDF).
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).
After two years of slight improvement, the Spanish market reached 169 MWth (241,165 m2) of solar thermal capacity in 2015, which meant a 5.5 % drop compared to 2014. This is the result of a market study published by the Spanish solar thermal association, ASIT, in March 2016. The main reason for the disappointing sales figures was the lack of new construction and a poor performance by Andalusia’s regional incentives, which came to a halt in June 2015. The 2016 outlook, however, is another story: Spain has recently seen an upturn in the economy and construction segment and a growing number of unsubsidised systems. The Spanish solar thermal sector generated a revenue total of EUR 193 million in 2015 and provided employment to 4,800 workers.
After an uninterrupted four-year slump (and a stagnating market in 2013), the latest figures from the Spanish solar thermal association, ASIT, show that the market is alive again: A total collector area of 255,000 m² (179 MWth) was installed in 2014 – helping it grow by around 10 %. The market owed much of its increase to the Andalusian incentive programme, which has recently been extended to June 2015. Still, ASIT’s market survey published in February reported a decreasing manufacturing and export segment. The association confirmed that the participants of the survey covered 92 % of the market; only 8 % had to be estimated (you can find a list of the participating companies in the attached PDF). The Spanish solar thermal industry generated a turnover of EUR 204 million in 2014 and had around 5,100 direct full-time employees.
The largest region in Spain, Castile and León, has launched a new incentive programme for energy efficiency measures and renewable energies such as solar thermal, geothermal and biomass. Groups of flat owners, individual home owners, as well as public institutions can submit applications to the regional authorities until 11 March 2015. Castile and León, with a population of 2.5 million, had a total installed solar thermal capacity of 154,000 m² by the end of 2013, which represented 4.8 % of the total installed capacity that year and corresponds with the fact that the region accounts for 5.4 % of the country’s total population. Newly installed collector area, however, has gone down over the last years according to data from the Spanish Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving, IDAE.
The good results achieved by the Andalusian solar thermal incentive scheme, Prosol, have encouraged the regional government to extend the programme, but only until June 2015. Prosol subsidies cover up to 40 % of the investment costs in new solar thermal systems. The Andalusian market contributed roughly one-third to the entire newly installed capacity in Spain in 2014.
Source: Energy Agency of Andalusia and own calculations
In July 2014, the Barcelona City Council approved a EUR 11.3 million subsidy scheme for rooftop renovation and green roofs development (see the attached flyer), including incentives for the installation of solar thermal technologies. Applications will be accepted until 31 December 2014. With the scheme, the council expects to reach at least 5,100 households or 0.8 % of the city’s entire housing stock.
Last year, the Spanish solar thermal market showed signs of recovery for the first time since 2009. According to the latest report by the Spanish solar thermal industry association, ASIT, newly installed capacity grew by 1.5 % in 2013 compared to the previous year (see the attached document). This growth was mainly the result of a seemingly recovering construction sector and of incentives granted by regional governments, such as Andalusia. Recent changes to the most important renewable energy law, however, may threaten the consolidation of these first green successes.
Despite the decline in the Spanish solar thermal market, some regions have recently been recovering and even growing steadily, such as Andalusia. The region offers direct subsidies of up to 40% of the costs for private and commercial investments in solar water heating systems. It expects to keep these subsidies over the next years, but greater efforts are needed to also add new client groups, such as hotels and businesses. The Spanish solar thermal industry association, ASIT, expects Andalusia to finish 2013 with more than 60,000 m² of newly installed collector area, which is 30 % of the Spanish total market volume in a region that is home to merely 17% of the country’s total population.
Despite the seemingly never-ending recession in Spain, the solar thermal sector doesn’t throw in the towel. The sector is mainly dependent on the Technical Building Code, CTE, which mandates the installation of solar hot water systems in new structures and buildings undergoing major renovation. The burst of the housing bubble collapsed the construction market. Only 44,000 new houses were built in 2012 compared to 800,000 in 2006. Still, the economy shows the first signs of recovery, and the Spanish Solar Thermal Industry Association, ASIT, has been eager to find alternative markets and incentives that could improve the current situation.