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
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.
German Vaillant has launched a project which has stirred controversy among installers: Online platform heizungonline.vaillant.de can be used by manufacturers to directly address those end customers who wish to shop online – and send them a “price indication” for a complete heating system. Recent discussions have revolved around the question of whether this is a help to installation companies or if it interferes with their entrepreneurial freedom.
In 2015, the solar collector area newly installed in Switzerland shrunk by 16 % compared to 2014. Imports outperformed domestic production, and larger systems for multi-family and commercial buildings, particularly those with vacuum tubes, have gained market shares. These are some of the key findings of the annual study published by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (see attached study in German and French). Some cantons will completely halt incentives for solar heat because of budget restrictions.
Russian airport operator Basel Aero, which is part of Russian financial conglomerate Basic Elements, is planning additional installations of solar collectors at airports managed by the company in Anapa, Gelendzhik and Krasnodar near the Black Sea, according to a March 2016 press release. The enterprise has devoted special attention to environmental issues: It had already had a solar collector system installed on the roof of the Sochi airport in 2014, before the start of the Olympic Winter Games. The new terminal in Anapa will also be built using energy-saving technologies and eco-friendly materials.
Start-up Thermondo, based in Berlin, Germany, has turned the tables on sales and planning methods for home heating systems. Not only does the company generate its turnover online, it also leaves most of the planning for heating installations to a computer algorithm called “Manfred”. Surprisingly, Philipp Pausder, one of the two managing directors of Thermondo, said that the most important outcome of the new strategy wasn’t low prices but great service. The photo shows Thermondo’s three founding members (from left): Philipp Pausder, Florian Tetzlaff and Kristofer Fichtner.
The previously reported rumours of significant changes for solar thermal support in the UK have now been confirmed by the government in a consultation proposal on 3 March. Already we knew the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in Northern Ireland is suspended to all new renewable technologies. We now also know for new solar thermal systems in the rest of the UK that RHI support is proposed to be removed in 2017. This is for both RHI schemes domestic and non-domestic. The details have been released under the consultation document ‘The Renewable Heat Incentive: A reformed and refocused scheme’ (see attached pdf). The industry can comment to this consultation before the 27th April 2016. Already on the same day the Solar Trade Association (STA) published a protest note titled: British manufacturers and social housing providers join call for urgent rethink.
“The French market has been suffering from inadequately performing solar thermal installations made in the boom years of 2009 to 2011 because of untrained installers,” said Edwige Gautier, Project Coordinator at Enerplan, the Union of Professionals in Solar Energy, during her speech at SHC2015 in Istanbul at the beginning of December. “We need to rebuild investor confidence in solar thermal.” Training and installation manuals are one way to achieve this aim, monitoring systems would be another. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that two solar thermal innovations were conceived in France this year: Tecsol’s One Thermique and the storage tank touchscreens by Viessmann with its storage tank and collector factory in Faulquemont, France.
The solar heat supply system of dairy processor Bonilait Protéines, which has its factory near the French town of Poitiers, is a unique showcase in many ways. First of all, it is currently the largest solar process heat installation in France. Second, it is equipped with drainback technology delivered by Belgium company Sunoptimo. And third, it is the first solar process heat installation which is operated by EDF Optimal Solutions as an Energy Service Company (ESCO). EDF Optimal Solutions is a provider of energy efficient solutions for all kinds of commercial users in a variety of sectors. The photo shows the around 1,500 m² collector field with flat plate collectors of type Vitosol 200 delivered by German heating boiler manufacturer Viessmann and installed on a support structure above the parking lot next to the factory.
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.