Denmark’s success story in solar district heating, with 2016 having been another record year which almost doubled newly installed collector area to around 500,000 m², showcases the large potential of this type of application across Europe.
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.
The solar process heat plant at Fleischwaren Berger in Sieghartskirchen, Austria, went into operation in July 2013. With its 1,067 m² of high-temperature flat plate collectors, it pre-heats water for steam and hot water production. According to calculations by Austrian company SOLID, which was responsible for the planning and the turnkey installation, the solar plant can deliver usable heat at lower costs than the existing oil boiler over a 25-year period and with a favourable interest rate.
In a press release on 12 June, just one week before the Intersolar Europe, Austrian foam producer and plastic processing company Greiner Group announced to close down Greiner Renewable Energy (GRE). GRE had acquired the three solar companies Sun Master, Xolar and Solution little more than two years ago, in January 2011. The booth of Sun Master in hall B1 at the Intersolar was only filled with canvas chairs for the visitors to relax.
Photo: Jan Gesthuizen
2012 meant shrinking sales figures in the Austrian solar thermal market for the third time in a row. Although most states have increased their subsidies for solar thermal, 2013 does not seem to get any better. Three companies went bankrupt within the last four months. Collector prices on the market are dropping – some call it normal competition or the end of a high price era, others call it dumping. According to the sales data from Austria Solar members, the market shrank by almost 16% in 2012 compared to 2011, reaching about 200,000 m² last year.
1 April was the starting day of the EU FP 7 Project InSun (Industrial Process Heat by Solar Collectors) coordinated by zafh.net, the Centre for Applied Research on Sustainable Energy Technology at the University of Applied Sciences, Stuttgart, Germany. The participants of the project want to show to the public how to integrate flat plate, parabolic trough and Fresnel collectors into different processes and at different temperature levels. The project will run until March 2015 and has a budget of EUR 4.1 million. The owners of the pilot plants will receive back 50 % of their investment costs from that money.
A major order for two Austrian companies was announced at a press conference in the middle of August: Austrian engineering company Solid - represented by its two CEOs Christian Holter (middle) and Franz Radovic (right) - signed a contract with the United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA) to deliver, install and operate a solar heating and cooling installation with 3,900 m2 of collector area in Singapore. The Raiffeisen-Landesbank of Steiermark (RLB-Stmk) will be responsible for financing the investment of around EUR 4 million together with the OeKB, the Oesterreichische Kontrollbank. Photo: Solid