The use of solar heat is becoming increasingly popular in Belarus, an eastern European country with around 10 million population. Official statistics from the Ministry of Energy put the number of systems installed across the country at 287; their combined collector area, however, has not been recorded. This article presents a selection of the solar thermal systems partly in residential use, but some have also been integrated into the facade of commercial buildings (left photo) as well as educational and healthcare facilities (right). Their collector size ranges from 4 to 100 m2.
Photos: All photos in this news article were provided by the owners of the solar thermal systems
The ranking of the largest flat plate collector manufacturers is headed by the same four companies as last year: Greenonetec from Austria, Fivestar from China, Soletrol from Brazil and Bosch Thermotechnik from Germany. But aside from the continuity at the top, last year shows what different paths some markets have taken. Whereas Australian-based Solahart, one of the pioneers of global solar collector trade, as well as Soletrol, the largest Brazilian manufacturer, have lost ground, several others – such as Sunrain from China, Hewalex from Poland and Eraslan from Turkey – were able to report above-average growth for 2015 and rise through the ranks. The produced collector area of the overall 21 companies added up to 4,212,462 m². The number was 21 and not 20 because the last and second-last spot were occupied by companies with equal production output.
It is said to be the largest solar thermal plant in Russia: 2,200 collector modules by German heating boiler manufacturer Bosch Thermotechnik have been installed next to a district heating system in Narimanov in the Astrakhan region in southwest Russia. The district heating plant includes 5 new gas boilers from Bosch Thermotechnik with a total of 30 MW. The complete state-of-the-art heat supply unit – gas and solar – was financed by Astrakhan’s regional government. It was commissioned in October 2012 and inaugurated in June 2013 after a fairly short planning time. The existing district heating system with separate pipes for hot water and space heating provides heat for the 11,600 inhabitants of Narimanov. The 4,400 m² collector field feeds into the hot water pipe system.
Managers from four different companies showcasing one innovation – a rare occurrence, even at a large fair like the ISH 2015 in Frankfurt. At the beginning of March, Rudolf Pfeil, CEO of Resol, Christian Beckmann, Sales Manager Key Account and OEM at Wilo, Günter Kohlmaier, CEO of Kioto Solar, and Karsten Pillukeit, CEO of Esbe Group (from left), jointly presented the newly developed fresh water module, Fresh Hydro, at the booth of Kioto Solar. Thanks to a patented temperature control, the fresh water module offers rapid response times without over- or undershooting. The developers have promised a comfortable showering experience at 40 to 160 litres per minute and a temperature of 45 °C. The fresh water system was one of a number of solar thermal innovations at the ISH which were worth taking a closer look.
From 10 to 14 March, energy labels dominated Hall 8 at the ISH 2015 in Frankfurt. “Obviously, we have a competitive advantage with the label,” Uwe Glock, Head of the Management Board of Bosch Thermotechnik, pointed out during the fair’s press conference. Product and package labels could be found at the booths of all boiler manufacturers, which dominated Hall 8 during the international trade fair for The Bathroom Experience, Building, Energy, Air Conditioning Technology and Renewable Energies. The A with or without plus signs was the star of the show, heavily discussed in many B-to-B meetings. The 26th of September 2015, the date when the regulation will come into effect, is keeping the entire heating provider industry busy, regardless of whether a company may be specialised in boilers, heat pumps or renewable heating equipment.
Photo: Bärbel Epp
The number one in the ranking of the worldwide largest flat plate collector manufacturers based on collector area produced in 2013 is still Austrian OEM collector manufacturer Greenonetec, followed by three non-European manufacturers from BRICS countries: Soletrol from Brazil, as well as two companies from China, Prosunpro and Five Star. Germany’s largest flat plate collector manufacturer, Bosch Thermotechnik, only came in fifth place, down from being second in the previous ranking in 2012. German agency solrico created the ranking after carrying out a worldwide survey among companies serving the solar thermal sector in September and October 2014. Who has ranked how well this year shows a lot about the international trends of the global solar thermal industry.
According to the regulation on the overall energy efficiency of buildings, the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU) passed on 19 May 2010, EU Member States must ensure that all new builds are nearly zero-energy houses from 2021 on – in the public sector, the directive will even apply two years earlier. With its energy-plus house designs, Bosch Thermotechnik has already been offering such solutions which not only meet but go below the future building standards. Already realised energy-plus houses mostly rely on combinations of PV system and electric heat pump. Many building designs also incorporate a solar thermal system for domestic hot water. Solarthermalworld.org spoke with Ralf Köbbemann-Rengers, Vice President Engineering Solar Thermal Systems and Storage Tanks at Bosch Thermotechnik.
“The change at the top of Centrotec made the first quarter of 2014 an unusually turbulent one.” These were the words with which Guido A Krass (left), founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of German Centrotec Sustainable, started the annual shareholders´ meeting in Brilon, central Germany, on 20 May 2014. The long-term Chairman of the Management Board, Dr Gert-Jan Huisman, resigned with immediate effect in April 2014, to make room for the new management team of Dr Christoph Traxler (middle) and Dr Thomas Kneip, both with long-term experiences in leading positions within the Centrotec Group. Krass justified the parting with Huisman with different views on the company’s business policy, in particular regarding the future of the gas flue systems segment. “It was a friendly, but expensive resignation,” Krass said. Huisman received EUR 1 million in termination pay.
2013 was a very good solar year for the housing developer of 8-19 Kastenienplatz in Querfurt, a city in the east of Germany. The solar thermal system of the developer’s multi-family houses with 95 flats along 8-19 Kastanienplatz yielded a whopping 586 kWh/m2 of collector area. Last year’s monitored solar yield, which was produced by a field of 50 m2 of flat plate collector area, was as high as 29,557 kWh. Kastanienplatz is just one of several reference projects by German engineering company and system developer Parabel Energiesysteme to reach specific yields of more than 500 kWh/m²a (see the chart on the left). Usually, solar hot water systems in multi-family houses only allow specific solar yields between 200 and 400 kWh.
German company Parabel Energiesysteme has set up solar thermal systems with collector areas between 20 and 220 m² on, all in all, 450 buildings across Europe. More than 100 of these systems are part of a continuous monitoring programme. Their typical yield is 500 kWh/m² and year – impressively high for Germany. In January, a group of participants of the SMEThermal conference in Berlin, Germany, took a tour to a Parabel plant. The photo shows the area in the centre of Berlin where solar water heaters are placed on several roofs of the multi-family buildings as well as a kindergarten on the left.
Photo: Eva Augsten