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Austria: Big Solar – EUR 200 Million Investment in Graz

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on April 15, 2016
Kleine ZeitungThe Austrian municipality of Graz is preparing for the post-fossil fuel heating era: On 27 February, the front page of national newspaper Kleine Zeitung (copies sold each day: around 300,000) read “Graz plans largest solar storage worldwide”. According to the news article, regional energy provider Energie Steiermark and Austrian solar thermal system supplier S.O.L.I.D conducted a feasibility study for a huge solar district heating plant called Big Solar – with promising results. The study and the news article both references the world’s largest collector field in Danish Vojens with 70,000 m² (49 MWth) as a successful example of how to undertake such a large project. At the beginning of April, Energie Steiermark confirmed the plans for Big Solar’s realisation in a press release about 2015’s annual financial statement. 

Certification – A Marketing Tool for Solar Thermal Energy Professionals

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on April 11, 2016
To have a solar thermal system on the roof of one’s home may be a good thing if it does work well. But the probability that solar water heaters perform as they should and as long as they are supposed to is higher when they are installed by real experts familiar with the best practices of the industry. But how is one to know whether an installer is a real professional? Certification may be a viable indicator of whether or not a plumber can be trusted with installing a modern solar thermal system. That is why certification is gaining importance not only in manufacturing, but also in other parts of the industry. 
 

Europe: 23 New and Upgraded Solar District Heating Plants of 190 MWth Start Operation in 2015

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on April 5, 2016
District Heating EuropeAs in previous years, Denmark remained the country dominating Europe’s solar district heating market. Twenty of the 23 new and upgraded district heating plants in Europe above 350 kWth (500 m²) from the statistics compiled by Jan-Olof Dalenbäck from the Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, went into operation in Denmark – whereas Austria, Italy and Sweden had only one each to show for. Dalenbäck’s database shows 211 large-scale district heating plants currently in operation, with combined output at 708 MW (1.01 million m²). This means that only every fourth district heating plant in Europe uses solar energy compared to the 5,400 district heating systems a database from Swedish Halmstad University lists from across the EU-27. The map shows 2,188 cities with 2,445 larger district heating systems. The highest plant densities can be found in Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. 
Source: Heat Roadmap Europe 2050 - Second pre-study for the EU27 (see the attached document)
 

Europe: Solar Keymark Network to Improve Complaint Procedures

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 31, 2016
The Solar Keymark Network has decided to establish a working group in order to revise and improve the complaint procedures and put them into one document, as they have so far been described in several different papers and various articles: The Solar Keymark Scheme Rules, Article 2.2, includes instructions on how to handle complaints and there is Article 6.3. Special Test, whereas the CEN-CENELEC Internal Regulations Part 4, Article 7.4, describes the appeal procedures (see the attached documents). This move is deemed necessary because at the end of 2015 – for the first time since the Solar Keymark label was launched – several complaints were submitted to one of the empowered certification bodies. “In our network meeting, we informed the members about the first big complaint and discussed the need for putting the complaint procedures into one document, to make it clearer for the solar thermal industry how to use them,” said Jaime Fernández González-Granda, Chairman of the Solar Keymark Network and Product Officer at the Spanish certification and standardisation body, AENOR. 
 

IEA SHC: Task 56 Kick-Off Meeting on Building Integrated Solar

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 30, 2016
Norway AventaAlmost 30 experts from 25 partner organisations met in Bolzano, Italy, on 21 and 22 March for the kick-off meeting of IEA SHC Task 56, Building Integrated Solar Envelope Systems for HVAC and Lighting. The overall goal of the task is to find out “why some ways of solar integration do work, while others don’t,” as the Task Operating Agent and Coordinator of the Sustainable Heating and Cooling Systems research team at Italian institute EURAC, Roberto Fedrizzi, put it – and, of course, to find measures to improve solar technology integration into façades and roofs. The photo shows a residential home in Stavern, southern Norway, where 7 m2 of solar collectors have been integrated into window frames in the south-facing facade, contributing to both domestic hot water preparation and space heating.
Photo: Aventa

Smart Heat: Ruvi Solar Highlights Customer Experience

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 14, 2016
Studies by different consulting companies, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and Oliver Wyman, agree that information technology will revolutionise the energy sector from the ground up. Along with the trend of “digitalisation” goes the one of “customer centricity”, which means putting the end users’ preferences and way of thinking in the focus of product design – just as has been done by providers of convenience products. The energy sector in general and solar thermal in particular have hardly pushed the issue into the public spotlight. Now the Austrian start-up ruvi created a new solution to monitor solar thermal systems. The company’s novel approach: Make solar thermal easily understandable without forcing the user to read a manual. 
 

World Sustainable Energy Days 2017, Wels

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 5, 2016
The World Sustainable Energy Days, a large annual conference in this field in Europe, offer from 1 to 3 March 2016 the combination of events on sustainable energy production and use, covering energy efficiency and renewable energy sources for buildings, industry and transport. Four conferences, which present the latest technology trends, outstanding examples and European strategies - and the “Energiesparmesse“, an important energy trade show, offer opportunities to establish new partnerships. The conference makes an important contribution to awareness-raising for green energy and energy efficiency. The 2016 conference, which was held from 24 - 26 February in Wels/Austria, attracted around 700 participants from 57 countries.
 

SOLTRAIN: 2,150 Technicians Trained and 187 Demonstration Systems Installed in SADC Region

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 1, 2016
SOLTRAIN ConferenceThe Southern African Solar Thermal Training and Demonstration Initiative (SOLTRAIN) presented the project’s remarkable progress since 2009 during a conference in Midrand, South Africa, on 11 February 2016. “Between 2009 and 2015, about 2,150 people have been trained in 80 courses, and nearly 187 solar thermal systems ranging from 2 to 250 m² collector area per system have been installed in the five target countries South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe,” Project Coordinator Werner Weiss, Managing Director of Austrian institute AEE INTEC, summed up the results. The photo shows the presentation of Dr Thembakazi Mali, Senior Manager Clean Energy Solutions at the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) on 11 February. The one-day conference was attended by 63 stakeholders from the SADC region. 
Photos (2): Monika Spörk-Dür

Solar Process Heat: „It all depends on the conventional heating equipment”

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 25, 2016
Bastian SchmittDr Bastian Schmitt can look back at more than ten years of experience in the field of solar process heat. As part of his doctoral thesis, the mechanical engineer developed a classification system for the integration of solar thermal systems providing process heat on industrial premises. Today, he is a member of Task 49 of the IEA’s Solar Heating and Cooling Programme and heads the working group Process Heat at the Institute of Thermal Engineering (ITE), a department of the University of Kassel, Germany. Solarthermalworld.org spoke with him about the latest research into solar thermal integration and the goals set in last year’s guidance document. 

Austria: Low Oil Price and Lack of Political Support Weakens Market

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 15, 2016
Heating with oilAccording to the ISOL Index by solrico and market data from the industry association Austria Solar, the solar thermal industry is heading into another year of declining markets. Low oil prices and corresponding campaigns of the fossil heating industry have had a substantial impact on this renewable technology. The banner shows the slogan “Heizen mit Öl – das zahlt sich aus” (The Benefits of Using Oil to Heat Your Home) on the website of the Austrian mineral oil industry, which offers grants of EUR 2,500 for the installation of a condensing oil boiler in a single-family building. Austria Solar has also criticised the reduction in the renewable budget of the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund as well as the complicated incentive scheme rules throughout the states. The large-scale project market is what keeps the industry alive. 

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