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
To have a solar thermal system on the roof of one’s home may be a good thing if it does work well. But the probability that solar water heaters perform as they should and as long as they are supposed to is higher when they are installed by real experts familiar with the best practices of the industry. But how is one to know whether an installer is a real professional? Certification may be a viable indicator of whether or not a plumber can be trusted with installing a modern solar thermal system. That is why certification is gaining importance not only in manufacturing, but also in other parts of the industry.
Since Slovakia and its 5.45 million citizens joined the European Union in 2004, the country has made considerable progress in increasing its energy efficiency and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Solar thermal technology, however, is still a niche market with stagnating annual volumes over the last three years. The European Solar Thermal Industry Federation estimates that 5,500 m² were newly installed in 2014, whereas EurObserv´Er published a figure of 7,000 m² for the same year. With 19 kW of solar thermal capacity in operation per 1,000 inhabitants at the end of 2013, there is still a lot of untapped potential given the fact that in the neighbouring Czech Republic, the parameter is significantly higher with 31 kW per 1,000 inhabitants (Source: Solar Heat Worldwide (306)). Clients are now waiting on an already announced new subsidy scheme which should have started at the beginning of August. The photo shows a roof integration system delivered by Thermosolar, a collector manufacturer based in Slovakia.
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.
The Programme for an Increased Usage of Biomass and Solar Energy in Households in Slovakia, which was launched in April 2009, has now exceeded its budget. Although applications were accepted until 30 October 2011, the Ministry of Economy had already announced on 27 October 2011 that the number of subsidy applications had overtaken the funds available for the programme. All submitted applications are going to be evaluated in order of their submission date. The map illustrates the geographical spread of the approved applications depending on the respective solar sector and is published by the Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency (SIEA). Source: www.siea.sk
Greek manufacturer Sole has already completed its second large-scale solar thermal project in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The company installed a 1,026 m² (0.72 MWth) solar thermal system at the newly constructed Dubai Sports Complex, which provides the sports facilities with hot sanitary and swimming pool water. The photo shows Sole´s Managing Director, Vangelis Lamaris, testing the stability of the collector field. Photo: Sole
The currently largest solar thermal system in Serbia is installed on the employee and visitor parking garage of the hospital in the Serbian town of Zreňanin, according to the director of the Serbian Solar Institution, Miroslav Lambiča. 200 solar collectors manufactured and set up by Slovakian company Thermosolar have generated heat for this central hospital since December 2010. Photo: Thermosolar
During the first eighteen months of Slovakia’s subsidy programme, 3,913 households applied for grants from it. According to the Slovak Agency of Innovation and Energy (SIEA), this means that from a total budget of EUR 8 million, EUR 4.3 million still remain for allocation. The “Programme for an increased usage of biomass and solar energy in households” started on 20 April 2009. The programme's applicants have been more interested in solar collectors than in biomass boilers: only 730 households applied for a subsidy for a biomass boiler, whereas 3,183 households applied for a solar system.
Solar exterior with collectors produced in Slovakia: The company Thermosolar has just recently invested EUR 1.5 million in upgrading the machinery in its factory in Žiar nad Hronom, in order to increase productivity and reach a manufacturing capacity of 500,000 m2 per year. Photo: Thermosolar
Just over a year ago, on March 20 2009, Slovakia launched its first subsidy programme for solar collectors and biomass boilers: After a modification of the formal requirements and the amount of subsidies one can receive, the programme’s figures have shown a great improvement lately. Figure: SEA