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Mexico: Ongoing Struggle over Legally Binding Standards

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on August 24, 2016
CONUEEDespite being the most robust solar thermal market across North and South America in terms of growth (8 % YoY in 2015), Mexico is still struggling domestically to harmonise its quality standards for solar thermal heaters. The lack of understanding between local producers and equipment importers has been the main hurdle to legally binding and uniform rules. However, the process is ongoing and the market’s stakeholders expect a draft of the official NOM-027-ENER-2015 to be available for public consultation by the end of 2016.
Chart: CONUEE
 

Denmark: Arcon-Sunmark Announces Silkeborg Solar Plant Development

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on August 19, 2016
On 13 July, Arcon-Sunmark, the Danish large-scale solar heating specialist, officially announced that as the chosen turnkey provider, it was beginning construction on the 156,694 m² solar district heating system (110 MWth) on behalf of the Danish city of Silkeborg and its district heating company Silkeborg Forsyning. The plant is scheduled for completion by the end of the year and will then be the largest solar district heating system worldwide.
 

Germany: Vaillant Establishes End-Customer Online Platform

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on August 15, 2016
VaillantGerman 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. 
Picture: heizungonline.vaillant.de
 

India: Process Heat System Monitoring Shows Fair Performance but Room for Improvement

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on August 12, 2016
Himachal Pradesh Dairy Case StudyThe SoPro India project has scientifically monitored two solar water heating systems for a year with the aim of presenting reliable data on system performance (see the attached PDFs). The measured 20 % solar efficiency would put the ROI between 2 and 3 years, depending on the development of fossil fuel costs. The researchers from German institute Fraunhofer ISE see new systems offering “good opportunities for further technical improvement.” SoPro was implemented by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) in cooperation with the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
 

Germany: Today’s System Suppliers Wary of Fixed-Price Marketing Campaigns

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on August 8, 2016
Sonnenkraft Advertising 2005 and 2015The German solar thermal market is still stuck in recession. Although incentives are higher than they have ever been, demand has not really picked up over the first five months of this year, according to the market statistics by the two associations BSW Solar and BDH. The total collector area sold until the end of May was again down by 5.3 % compared to the previous year, although vacuum tubes have been more strongly affected by the slump (-18 %) than flat plate collectors (-4 %). Installers are viewed as the bottleneck in the supply chain and an increasing number of solar thermal suppliers have run advert campaigns to try and reach end customers on their own. Solarthermalworld.org has already reported on the new end-customer sales strategies employed by Thermondo. This article describes how the campaigns of another German system supplier, Sonnenkraft, have changed over the years. The image depicts an advertisement for the campaign from 2005 (left) and one from 2015 (right).
Image: Sonnenkraft
 

TASK 45 / 55: Guidelines on How to Design Seasonal Storage

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on August 1, 2016
Bore Hole StorageSeasonal storage is a key component in the transformation of today’s energy industry. Besides storing energy in summer for heating in winter, it can also be used to save waste heat from the industry and to increase the electricity production from biomass CHP plants. Experiences gathered with the technology during case studies were summarised as part of the study Seasonal thermal energy storage – Report on state of the art and necessary further R+D, which was published by Task 45, Large Scale Solar Heating and Cooling Systems, of the IEA SHC programme. Together with the Guidelines for Materials & Construction on the two most common storage types, borehole (see the chart) and water pit, it provides a good overview of the current advancements in this field (all three documents attached). Additional research into the design of seasonal storage will be carried out in follow-up Task 55, Towards the Integration of Large SHC Systems into District Heating and Cooling (DHC) Network. Interested stakeholders have been invited to join the kick-off meeting of Task 55 in Graz, Austria, between 19 and 21 October (see contact details below).
Chart: TASK 45
 

Mexico: Solar Process Heat Beats Fossil-Fuel Boiler in Energy Cost

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on July 25, 2016
Inventive Power MexicoMexican company Inventive Power helps industrial customers to reduce their energy costs, which in turn reduces pollution in major cities. “Besides traffic, industrial boilers are responsible for much of the pollution in urban areas,” Ángel Mejía Santiago explained during the Intersolar Europe. The founder and CEO of Inventive Power emphasised that concentrating solar systems could offer energy at significantly lower cost than thermal power generation by natural gas or oil. Santiago sees great market potential in the technology, as there have been 32,000 boilers and water heaters installed across the country – at hotels and hospitals as well as food and beverage companies. The photo shows a parabolic trough installation with 433 m² of mirror aperture at the Nestlé dairy factory in Lagos de Moreno, central Mexico, which started operating in 2014. 
Photo: Inventive Power
 

Ukraine: IT Company Building to Have Solar Drainback System

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on July 20, 2016
Lviv IT ClusterLviv IT Cluster, one of Ukraine´s leading IT businesses, is currently building up a multi-family house for its employees that meets all the requirements for a smart property, including a modern heating system. It offers 72 flats on ten floors and is being built in Lviv, in western Ukraine. The gas condensing boilers for the heating station on the most upper floor will be delivered by German boiler and collector manufacturer Vaillant Group, which is also said to install the 30 collectors on the building’s roof once construction has been completed. The illustration shows a 3D model of the “IT House”, where construction for the 6th floor is underway, as an online webcam shows.
Image: Lviv IT Cluster
 

ESCO Project Funding: Search for Attractive Case Studies to Fill Project Pipeline

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on July 5, 2016
Energy Contracting FundSolar heating and cooling has not been bankable yet despite various systems confirming expected performance and O&M costs. Project budgets are usually too small and the technology suppliers do not pass the stringent requirements of creditworthiness, which leaves the financial provider with a high-risk scenario. Accordingly, Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) have faced severe financing issues, which slow down the expansion of their business. It is good news to them that two recently launched projects also focus on facilitating the creation of an investment fund for solar thermal ESCO projects: First, there is the Feasibility Study - Energy Contracting Fund, which is jointly coordinated by the German Investment and Development Corporation Bank (DEG) and German SHC turnkey provider Industrial Solar; the second project, TrustEE – enhancing investment conditions for industrial energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, is from the EU and has been coordinated by Austrian institute AEE INTEC.
 

China: Challenges and Opportunities of World’s Largest Solar Thermal Market

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on June 27, 2016
Reduced real estate investment has been the key reason for the strong decline of China’s solar thermal market. In 2015, the collector area installed annually was down to 43.5 million m² (30.5 GWth), which almost put the figure back to the level of 2009, and the growth rates in 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 were -18 % and -17 % respectively. The chart on annual output was taken from a presentation by He Tao, Professor at the China Academy of Building Research. He held it during the Executive Committee Meeting of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme in Spain at the beginning of June. When presenting the numbers, the professor also emphasised that the industry “has made great efforts to find new applications for space heating, solar process heat and space cooling” (see the attached presentation). 
Chart: China Academy of Building Research
 

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