China’s shift away from residential towards commercial solar thermal applications continues: The collector area of newly installed solar water heaters in single-family buildings declined by 26 % in 2016, whereas the ‘engineering segment’ remained stable last year (see the table below). This segment is comprised of all non-domestic hot water applications, such as space heating and cooling as well as applications in industry and agriculture. Overall, its share in the newly installed collector area went from 61 to 68 %. All figures were taken from the Report on the State of China 's Solar Thermal Industry (July to December 2016), a document drafted by Dezhou-based consultancy Sun’s Visions on behalf of CSTIF, the Chinese Solar Thermal Industry Federation. CSTIF has presented this report – which also includes several development strategies – to the National Energy Board.
The make-up of China’s solar thermal market is changing: The segment that used to guarantee the industry’s profits, the retail business of small thermosiphon systems for private households, has been declining in recent years. Other solar thermal segments, however, have been taking off in the meantime – for example, the market for more sophisticated solar thermal installations that are integrated into blocks of flats, hospitals, schools or universities. There is also growing interest in medium- and high-temperature solar thermal systems for industrial process heat. According to the annual surveys and market reports by Sun’s Vision, a consultancy located in Shandong province, the so-called solar thermal engineering market, which includes building integration and industrial process heat systems, increased by 50% in 2012 and 2013, after having grown by 35 % in 2011. The pie chart shows the individual categories of the building integration segment in 2013, which was the main driver of the national market.
Shandong is among the Chinese provinces with the most advanced solar thermal industry in China. Simon Goess (left), a researcher from the Netherlands, has recently carried out a number of interviews with stakeholders to understand how the province fosters innovation. The photo shows the interview with Dr Yuwu Li, Head of the Solar Application Product Inspection Laboratory in Shandong's capital city Jinan. Li is also Vice Secretary of the Shandong Solar Energy Industry Association.
The Chinese solar thermal industry has set up a highly organised distribution network based on more than 50,000 solar shops all around the country. The market researchers of the Sun´s Vision, located in Dezhou, estimate that around 20,000 of these shops are franchise businesses, which deal in one brand only. They belong to one of the top four collector manufacturers Himin Solar, Sunrain Group, Sangle Solar or Linuo Paradigma. The photo shows a franchise partner shop of Linuo Paradigma (left) and Sangle (right) in the city of Jinan, Shandong province. Most shops, however, sell more than one brand of solar energy equipment. Photos: Bärbel Epp
On 1 March 2012, Beijing followed many other large Chinese cities in introducing its own solar thermal mandatory law. The new regulations are stipulated in document No. 3/2012, “Beijing Urban Construction Applications Management Approach”. Article 9 describes the scope of the new regulations: Newly built residential houses of up to 12 floor - as well as hotels, schools, hospitals, and swimming pools - are obliged to install a solar thermal hot water system if no waste heat is used to cover domestic hot water demand. The photo shows a block of flats in the city of Jinan, 400 km southeast of Beijing, in which a solar obligation has already been in place for several years. Photo: Bärbel Epp
At the beginning of July, Shandong Linuo Paradigma Co. Ltd celebrated ten “golden years” of a successful Chinese-German partnership between the Chinese corporation and the German Ritter Group. Klaus Taafel (right), Chairman of the Board at Linuo Paradigma, cut the anniversary cake together with two of the company's production workers who have birthday on the same day as Linuo. Photo: Linuo Paradigma
After the Group's new vacuum tube titanium coating has proven itself on the Chinese market for the past year, Linuo Solar Thermal is thinking about introducing the product also on international markets. One of the biggest manufacturers of vacuum tubes in China has so far used an aluminium-based coating for all its products. The new coating of the Sunrain group - presented at the company´s 10-year anniversary in December 2010 – is said to be based on titanium as well. Photo: Linuo Group
The Beijing branch of the International Copper Association (ICA) has formed the International Metal Solar Industry Alliance (IMSIA) in November 2010. “The alliance will provide a platform for its members to share best practices and cooperate in promoting copper solar thermal technologies,” Joseph Huang, Project Manager of the Building Energy Management section, explained. The alliance was officially presented to the public at a press meeting at the Beijing Hotel on 15 November 2010. Photo: ICA