Despite shrinking markets in Europe, Greece’s collector and tank manufacturers have increased their exports two times in a row. In 2015, the solar thermal industry delivered 7 % more collector area abroad and in 2016, the figure even rose by 14 % compared to the year prior and totalled 330,000 m² (231 MWth). Main export markets were in Southern Europe, North Africa and the Gulf region. Domestic sales have remained at the same level since 2014, at around 270,000 m² (189 MWth).
The Solar Keymark Network (SKN) discussed and approved new complaint procedures during its most recent meeting on the Greek island of Crete in mid-October 2016. Action had to be taken, as the first series of complaints filed in late 2015 against Swedish test lab SP about the certificates of Danish collector manufacturer Arcon-Sunmark was not resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved. The results of the October meeting are described in a publicly available draft of the minutes on the SKN webpage.
Last year, the amount of newly installed glazed collector area added up to 2.7 million m² (1.9 GWth) in the European Union’s E28 and Switzerland combined. It is another decline compared to the previous year, this time by 7 %. The annual market statistics of the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) show 23,700 people to have been employed by the solar thermal sector Europe-wide, whereas turnover was EUR 1.9 billion overall. The four-page market survey published in November includes the country-specific figures of all 28 EU countries and Switzerland. Most of the data was provided by national associations, energy agencies or industry companies, although the markets of six smaller countries were estimated by the ESTIF team. The survey can be downloaded by filling in a form on the organisation’s website. A full report will be available to ESTIF members in early December.
The global solar thermal market went into another year of notable decline in 2015. With 37.2 GWth, the newly installed glazed and unglazed collector capacity in the 18 largest countries was 14 % lower than in 2014 (43.4 GWth). Between 2013 and 2014, the decrease in these 18 major countries – which represent 95-97 % of the world market – had been 15 %. The further slowdown last year was the result of diminishing collector area figures in China (-17 %), and in Europe (nine biggest nations down by -5 %). The countries with the highest growth rates last year were Denmark (+55 %), Turkey (+10 %), Israel (+9 %) and Mexico (+8 %). The chart shows both 2015’s newly installed collector area, broken down by collector type – flat plate, vacuum tube and unglazed collector area, and the 2014-2015 growth rate (excluding China, whose 2015 market volume was 21-times larger than Turkey, which ranked second). China added 30.5 GWth in 2015 of which 12.6 % were flat plate collectors (5.5 million m2).
Greece’s solar water heater manufacturers have proved to be highly resilient at a time when the country is in economic crisis. The collector manufacturers were able to increase both domestic (+19 %) and export (+16 %) sales in 2014, according to the Greek Solar Industry Association, EBHE. The industry provides a high level of vertical integration and exports 50 % of its annual production volume. EBHE promotes a number of measures to keep business growing for its members. At the beginning of the year, the association and industry sponsors commissioned the Greek Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research, IOBE, to carry out a survey on the economic impact of a domestic tax reduction scheme. The survey results are now available and EBHE’s President, Panayis Konstantinidis, has already been in several meetings with ministry officials and members of parliament. The photo shows Konstantinidis (left) with Kostis Hatzidakis, Member of Parliament and former Minister of Development, during a discussion in September 2015.
Dr Klaus Vajen is the winner of the Achievement through Action Award of the International Solar Energy Society, ISES. The German professor from the University of Kassel and his research group were presented with the award during the Solar World Congress in South Korea at the beginning of November. The ISES award honours persons who have made significant achievements and contributions toward the advancement of solar energy systems and applications. Vajen joins an illustrious group of previous award recipients from the solar heating and cooling sector, such as Dr Adolf Goetzberger from German Research Institute Fraunhofer ISE (1993), Panos Lamaris, President of Greece collector manufacturer Sole (1999), Werner Weiss, Managing Director of Austrian Research Institute AEE INTEC (2003) and Professor Yin Zhiqiang from Tsinghua University, Beijing (2005). The prize is endowed with USD 1,900.
There is great scepticism among Europe’s solar thermal collector manufacturers about whether or not the energy labelling will increase demand for solar thermal systems. In a survey carried out by German agency solrico, more than 50 % of the European solar thermal manufacturers disagreed with the statement “The energy labelling will foster your solar sales”. All in all, 158 solar collector and solar tank manufacturers in Europe answered the multiple-choice question (Do you agree with the following statement – The energy labelling will foster your solar sales?) by ticking one of five answers: strongly agree, agree, tend to agree, disagree and strongly disagree. The chart shows the results at national level. The figures in brackets display the number of valid answers from each country.
Diligent research on small scale low-temperature chillers, the launch of a new generation of compact solar cooling units and large-scale plants able to compete economically with conventional cooling solutions: These are just some of the main trends which were discussed during the 6th International Conference on Solar Air-Conditioning organised by German company East-Bavarian Institute for Technology Transfer, OTTI, Rome, Italy, on 24/25 September. The photo shows Conference Chairwoman Prof Ursula Eicker from the University of Applied Sciences, Stuttgart, Germany (forth from left in first row) together with the international scientific committee consisting of researchers from Germany, Spain, Greece, Italy, France, China, Austria and Cyprus.
Which countries are currently attractive markets for solar process heat? Different sources give different answers to this question. The chart above shows the assessment of the solar industry. More than 30 % of the Austrian solar collector manufacturers in the two surveys in 2012 and 2013 assumed that solar process heat was the fastest-growing segment in their national market. More than every tenth manufacturer in Germany, Mexico and France shared their opinion. The figure in brackets behind the country stands for the number of surveys analysed. Some of the countries, such as Germany, India, Mexico and France, have a support scheme in place which focuses on solar process heat systems.