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Switzerland: Current CO2 Tax Does Little to Help Solar Thermal

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on November 16, 2017
Oil price chartThe solar thermal market in Switzerland has been shrinking for the past years because of increasing competition from photovoltaics and heat pumps. Additionally, the low oil price has led to a wait-and-see attitude among potential customers. The market continues to show no signs of an upturn despite the introduction of a CO2 tax on fossil fuels around 10 years ago. This tax, however, has done little to compensate for the one-third reduction in oil prices in 2015 and 2016. A more suitable alternative would be a levy linked to oil and gas prices.
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office
 

Switzerland: Plans for Solar District Heating Pilot System

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on October 10, 2017
“Why is there no solar district heating in Switzerland?” Swiss scientists were asking after their visit to Denmark. They had been investigating the feasibility of solar heat in district heating networks in the St Gallen canton and published a 50-page study this March (see the attached document in German). As it turns out, solar heat could be produced in several networks for 60 to 160 CHF/MWh (50 to 140 EUR/MWh). Assuming plant owners or operators could get an incentive similar to the one for small-scale solar heat systems, it would make several larger ones economically viable. Now, the Swiss-based SPF – Institute of Solar Technology has begun to work with a district heating company on giving the country its first pilot plant.
 

Switzerland: Strong Heat Pump and PV Competition

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on October 3, 2017
Switzerland market statisticsThere couldn’t be a starker contrast between the market development of two renewable heat segments: Whereas Swiss heat pump sales remained at around 18,400 units per year from 2014 to 2016, collector sales dropped significantly from 117,634 m² in 2014 to 66,699 m² last year. Market volume is now below where it was ten years ago and solar water heaters are facing strong competition from heat pumps and photovoltaics (see attached market report in German and French). The annual solar thermal symposium on 8 November in Dübendorf near Zurich will provide an opportunity to discuss alternative applications and technologies.
Source: Swissolar
 

IEA SHC: Most Effective Solar Cooling Storage Technologies

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on September 27, 2017
Scientists from IEA SHC Task 53, New Generation Solar Cooling & Heating Systems, have compared the cost, efficiency and adaptability of solar cooling storage solutions and are now creating a report about the technologies most suitable for a given application. The researchers examined both thermal and electricity storage systems. But whereas the report can soon be used as guidance for choosing the most apt solution to heat and cool buildings, it will not provide a recommendation in favour of storing electricity or thermal energy. 
Photo: Consolar
 

IEA SHC Solar Academy: Solar Planning in Times of Rapid City Growth

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on September 26, 2017
Royal Seaport StockholmJust as on Stockholm’s coastline shown in the photo, cities are seeing new neighbourhoods develop or old ones restored and expanded at a rapid pace. Urban planning is a highly complex issue, especially if it involves low-carbon living solutions and environmental regulations. The main objective of the international group of researchers working in Task 51, Solar Energy in Urban Planning, has been to “support planners, architects, and local and national authorities in creating urban areas with architecturally integrated solar solutions in mind.” In mid-September, task coordinator Maria Wall, Professor at the Energy and Building Design department of Sweden’s Lund University, and other researchers presented successful case studies and suitable planning and design tools during a webinar. A recording and the presentations from it are available at the IEA SHC Solar Academy page.
 

IEA SHC: New Task to Use Solar Energy for Water Treatment

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on September 5, 2017
AEE INTECOn 18 September, there will be a definition meeting for a new task called Solar Energy in Industrial Water Management in Gleisdorf, Austria. The initiator of this international research project within the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme is Christoph Brunner from Austrian organisation AEE INTEC. The aim will be to investigate and improve solar-powered water separation and purification in industrial settings. Researchers and industry representatives are invited to attend the one-day workshop to discuss the agenda and the structure of the global initiative. The photo shows AEE INTEC’s laboratory-size membrane distillation system.
Photo: AEE INTEC
 

Low-Energy Buildings: Solar Thermal, PV or Heat Pump?

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on September 1, 2017
Woche der SonneWhat is the best way to supply heat and power to low-energy buildings? Although there is no single answer to this question, solarthermalworld.org simulated the installation of a solar thermal unit, a PV system, a heat pump and a gas boiler in a low-energy house in southern Germany. The results show that solar technologies are significantly more profitable than heat pump systems. The largest solar field – consisting of 10 m² each of PV and solar thermal combined with a gas boiler – has by far the lowest cost (EUR 35,876) over 20 years in operation. 
 

IEA Task 51: Challenges in Urban Planner Education

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on July 27, 2017
Task 51 MapCities and large municipalities all around the world have taken the lead in sustainability, and urban planners find themselves in the important position of having to devise solutions for integrating renewable and energy efficiency measures at local level. Each city has its own unique set of resources and pattern of energy use. But as solar energy is available everywhere to some extent, there will be an urgent need to develop the expertise and skills of solar industry stakeholders in urban planning. Researchers from the IEA’s Solar Heating and Cooling Programme’s Task 51, Solar Energy in Urban Planning, have examined the educational offerings of universities and colleges in nine partner countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland), identified gaps in knowledge and designed solutions to overcome them. 
 

Switzerland: Rising Interest in PVT Technologies

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on June 1, 2017
PVT CaotecThe Swiss-based SPF - Institute of Solar Technology has recently published a report on behalf of EnergieSchweiz, a programme by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, about the market situation of PV-thermal technologies (PVT) in Switzerland and across all of Europe (see attached document in German). The researchers from SPF have found that there are various market-ready and proven products available. They counted around 300 PVT installations in Switzerland alone. A particularly good example is shown on the photo: a PVT installation integrated into the facade of an office building. 
Photo: Caotec
 

Europe: Collector Field Is Main Cost Driver of Industrial Solar Heat Plants

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on May 31, 2017
Otti SymposiumScientists from Germany and Switzerland have recently analysed the cost structures of systems producing solar process heat. They presented their findings in mid-May at the Solar Thermal Energy Symposium, where they said they had identified great potential for cost-cutting and discovered a large spread of installation prices. Planning SHIP systems involved more work than doing the same for domestic applications, but it was the collectors that made up the lion’s share of the investment. The three-day symposium attracted around 230 experts from research and industry. As Germany’s major annual conference on solar heating and cooling, it focused this year on turnkey heating solutions, including solar ones for the housing market and industrial processes. It was the 27th symposium and, at the same time, the last one organised by the East-Bavarian Institute for Technology Transfer, OTTI, which filed for bankruptcy in February 2017. The symposium’s board of advisers has taken over sponsorship until a new conference organiser is found for 2018 (see attached flyer in German). 
Photo: OTTI
 

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