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Solar and biomass – a winning solution for district heating

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 18, 2018
Photo: Riccardo BattistiBiomass may be cheap and carbon-neutral, but a solar upgrade of biomass-fired district heating could further improve efficiency and reduce local emissions. For example, solar heat helps avoid having to start up and shut down wood-chip boilers or operate them at partial load. It can even replace backup fossil fuel systems, which provide district heating networks with energy in summer. During a December 2017 webinar, held as part of the Horizon 2020 project SDHp2m…From Policy to Market, experts from Sweden and Austria showed promising case studies for a clever combination of biomass and solar thermal in district heating.
Photo: Riccardo Battisti

Molten salt storage 33 times cheaper than lithium-ion batteries

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 12, 2018
Cost-effective energy storage is key to transitioning to a low-carbon society. Energy can be stored in the form of heat or electricity. A popular storage method for high-temperature thermal applications is a molten salt tank. Fact sheets created by the German Energy Storage Association, or BVES for short, show that molten salt tanks are around 33 times less expensive than electric batteries when it comes to storing a kilowatt-hour in them. 
Image: Frenell

Sonnenkraft, Holter and Tisun – the changing face of Austria’s industry

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 26, 2018
Photo: Thomas PirkerTwo strategic decisions taken by Austrian-based supplier Sonnenkraft in early 2018 have strengthened its position on the market. First, it secured an exclusive national distribution agreement with Holter, an Austrian wholesaler of heating equipment. Installers of Sonnenkraft equipment can now order products and systems on digital sales portal Holter online as opposed to getting them directly from the company. Second, on 4 December 2017, the supplier acquired the remaining 49 % stake in Austrian collector manufacturer Tisun, a competitor from which it had already purchased 51 % of the shares in May 2017. On 5 February 2018, the new owner asked for Tisun to be put into administration and an insolvency practitioner is now leading the restructuring effort. 
Photo: Thomas Pirker

Germany: Solar thermal loses out to other renewables

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 20, 2018
Wagner & Co2017 was the weakest year for solar thermal collector sales in more than a decade, according to the combined statistics by associations BDH and BSW-Solar. Their data reveals that only 78,000 systems were sold last year. The newly installed collector area added up to 625,000 m², down 16 % from 2016 and as much as 72 % from the boom year of 2008. It was an astonishingly poor showing, considering the strong growth in the construction industry and the high incentive amounts available in Germany.
Photo: BSW Solar / Wagner & Co

Daylight and electric lighting: new research initiative

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 14, 2018
Task 61The IEA Solar Heating & Cooling Programme has approved Task 61, a new research initiative concentrating on integrated daylight and electric lighting solutions. The task will tackle unresolved issues and challenges of a growing market which meets 19 % of the total electricity demand around the world. It will launch with a 3-day workshop from 28 February to 2 March 2018 in Lund, Sweden. Experts with a background in R&D or manufacturing are welcome to join the initiative. 
Source: Task 61, IEA SHC

District heating shows lower total socio-economic cost in future energy system

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on January 31, 2018
Costs for ST 1What would the economic impact on a future energy system be if one were to unlock the full solar thermal potential in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Italy? According to a study conducted by Aalborg University as part of the IEA SHC Task 52 research project Solar Heat and Energy Economics in Urban Environments, exploiting the maximum potential will result in significant cost reductions if solar heat is supplied not individually but by district heating. The graph shows small changes of between -0.1 % and +0.2 % in total socio-economic cost both in the District Heating scenario (expansion of district heating grids) and the Heat Savings one (retrofits reduce heat demand in buildings) when the maximum solar thermal potential is realised by using either decentralised solutions or district heating to supply heat to consumers. The key factor influencing the outcome is the cost of solar thermal systems. 
Graph: Aalborg University

Three ways to read European market statistics

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on January 27, 2018
Solar Heat EuropeThere is more than one way to read 2016’s market statistics published by Solar Heat Europe about 2 months ago. One could emphasise the great achievements made in reducing emissions and creating jobs in the solar heating and cooling sector in Europe. One could likewise point to Denmark as a leader in solar district heating. A third possibility would be to concentrate on the continued decline in most key markets in Europe and the stark difference between renewable heating targets and their fulfilment in many countries. You can download the 5-page brochure here.

Global certification saves money and time

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on January 18, 2018
To enter new markets, solar thermal collector manufacturers need to have their products tested and certified as meeting local standards. Thanks to GSCN, the Global Solar Certification Network, they can complete several certification processes with only one test cycle. “A collector manufacturer can save a lot of time and money because its collector test report from one region will be accepted to receive a certificate in another region,” GSCN Manager Jan Erik Nielsen from Denmark said in an interview with 

Solar thermal goes digital

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on January 3, 2018
WorkshopOn 14 December 2017, members of industry associations Austria Solar and BSW-Solar met founders of start-ups to draw up digital strategies for solar thermal. One of the key findings from the one-day workshop in Vienna, Austria, was that “traditional solar thermal companies cannot take on this task alone. They will have to partner with start-ups to explore and utilise the potential that digitalisation has for their business,” Roger Hackstock, Managing Director of Austria Solar, said.
Photo: Austria Solar


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