During the last seven years, a group of scientists has monitored selected large solar thermal installations in Austria on behalf of the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund. The gathered data confirms that these plants have been reliable and produce satisfactory yields. Particularly the new generation of large-scale medium-temperature collectors either with a foil or with a second glass cover shows remarkable results in district heating use. The 2,490 m² solar field (see photo) which has fed heat into the district heating network of Graz, Austria, reached a yield of 489 kWh/m².
Professor Vitaly A. Butuzov is one of Russia’s well-known experts on solar heating and cooling. He is professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering, Heat and Renewable Energy of Kuban State Agrarian University in Krasnodar, the capital of the region which bears its name. This region is one of the main economic centres in southern Russia. Additionally, Butuzov is Director of Krasnodar Power Technologies, which offers solar thermal systems in combination with geothermal units and energy efficiency projects. Solarthermalworld.org spoke with him about market development in Russia.
The IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report or MTRMR 2016 again includes a chapter on renewable heating and cooling – and it’s growing in size. The 282-page document published from Singapore on 25 October analyses on 47 pages the current and future market development of four renewable heating technologies: biomass, solar thermal, geothermal and heat pumps. The IEA began to add a renewable heating chapter to its MTRMR in 2013 – back then, it had only 14 pages. The authors of this year’s edition emphasise the fact that onshore wind and solar PV are the only renewable technologies on track for a 2 °C target.
About 400 industry stakeholders met in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Doha in early November to attend the first Green Expo Forum organised by the Gulf Organisation for Research and Development (GORD). The three-day conference offered presentations by experts from Gulf countries and the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (IEA SHC), which held its biannual Executive Committee meeting at around the same time. “The GORD conference was a great forum for presenting the research work from the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme,” said Ken Guthrie, Chairman of the IEA SHC. GORD had organised the Green Expo Forum in collaboration with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment. The first-day event was titled The Carbon & Climate Change Summit. The second and third day featured the Sustainable Built Environment Conference.
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
Renovating multi-storey buildings can be used to create new living space with an additional top floor. That’s where an Austrian consortium led by AEE INTEC comes in: It has developed the Roofbox, an entirely prefabricated modular living space. A Roofbox consists of a bathroom, a kitchen, a separate toilet or living room and bedrooms, and it can be ordered with an active solar water heater system already installed on its roof. Every Roofbox can be transported by an articulated lorry and is rigid enough to be lifted by crane for roof mounting. On 16 September, Austrian Haas Fertigbau showcased in its Großwilfersdorf factory a flat made up of two Roofbox prototypes – which, however, is still missing the solar thermal unit on top (see photo).
The key to the decarbonisation of the energy sector is new compact storage technology: It will require much R&D to develop market-ready products based on new storage designs with phase change and thermochemical materials (PCMs and TCMs). One strategy is to combine resources within international research programmes – to create platforms unhindered by national borders or scientific disciplines, such as the joint task Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage planned within the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes. Its two future operating agents, Wim van Helden (left) from Austrian AEE INTEC for the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme and Andreas Hauer from the German Bavarian Center for Applied Energy Research (ZAE Bayern) for the IEA Energy Conservation through Energy Storage (ECES) programme, invite all interested researchers to Vienna, Austria, to attend the second Task Definition Meeting on 15 and 16 September 2016.
Typically, the number of jobs in the global solar heating and cooling industry is based on general assumptions and fragmentary extrapolations. The authors who publish the two annual studies on these job numbers have tried each year to improve upon the database – with success, although they still end up with different figures. The Solar Heat Worldwide Edition 2016 published by Austrian institute AEE INTEC estimated that 730,000 people had a job related to the manufacturing, installation or maintenance of solar thermal systems in 2014. The study Renewable Energy and Jobs - Annual Review 2016 by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) put the figure at 939,000 in the global solar heating and cooling industry in 2015 – 12 % of the world’s 8.1 million jobs in the renewable sector (find both studies attached).
Solar heating and cooling has not been bankable yet despite various systems confirming expected performance and O&M costs. Project budgets are usually too small and the technology suppliers do not pass the stringent requirements of creditworthiness, which leaves the financial provider with a high-risk scenario. Accordingly, Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) have faced severe financing issues, which slow down the expansion of their business. It is good news to them that two recently launched projects also focus on facilitating the creation of an investment fund for solar thermal ESCO projects: First, there is the Feasibility Study - Energy Contracting Fund, which is jointly coordinated by the German Investment and Development Corporation Bank (DEG) and German SHC turnkey provider Industrial Solar; the second project, TrustEE – enhancing investment conditions for industrial energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, is from the EU and has been coordinatedby Austrian institute AEE INTEC.
“Large-scale solar thermal systems in the GW range – an insignificant niche market or the future for solar thermal?” was the official title of a panel discussion at the Gleisdorf Solar conference in Austria in early May. The most important question was: What will be next for the planned 350 MWth solar district heating system called Big Solar in the Austrian city of Graz? “The challenge was to adapt the Danish district heating solutions to Austrian conditions,” emphasised the project’s initiator, Christian Holter (right), Managing Director of S.O.L.I.D. Meanwhile, Christian Stadler (left), Managing Director of one of Arcon-Sunmark’s subsidiaries, Arcon-Sunmark Germany & Austria, represented the company that has stated his own interest in realising Big Solar.