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Switzerland: PVT System Output Reaches 330 kWhth/m² on Top of 163 kWhel/m²

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on July 29, 2016
PVT OberfeldCrystalline PV modules utilise only 12 to 15 % of the incoming sunlight, while the rest is usually treated as waste heat. Hybrid solar panels, also called PVT elements, will channel this unused low-temperature heat, as shown by a large-scale demonstration plant in Switzerland. The PVT system’s 1,300 m² are used to regenerate a borehole field in a Swiss multi-family housing area. Monitoring data of the system’s first year in operation between August 2014 and July 2015 resulted in an annual thermal yield of 330 kWh/m² in addition to the 163 kWh/m² of electricity produced by the PV modules, according to a statement made by researchers from the Swiss SPF – Institute of Solar Technology earlier this year. The borehole field serves as the energy source for the heat pumps, which supply hot water all-the-year and space heating in winter. Most probably, the recommendations that the SPF researchers made to optimise the system in a paper published in May 2016 will even lead to a higher thermal yield during the installation’s second year. 
Photo: SPF Rapperswil

Switzerland: Solar Thermal Market Decline, Unclear Policy Situation

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on July 28, 2016
In 2015, the solar collector area newly installed in Switzerland shrunk by 16 % compared to 2014. Imports outperformed domestic production, and larger systems for multi-family and commercial buildings, particularly those with vacuum tubes, have gained market shares. These are some of the key findings of the annual study published by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (see attached study in German and French). Some cantons will completely halt incentives for solar heat because of budget restrictions. 

5. Tagung Solarwärme Schweiz 2016, Luzern

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on June 21, 2016
The 5th Tagung Solarwärme Schweiz will take place on 24 November in Lucerne, Switzerland. All presentations will be performed in German.

IEA SHC TASK 51: “Integrate Energy Perspectives into Spatial Planning of Urban Areas”

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on May 2, 2016
Task 51 Ida BrogrenDuring COP21 in Paris last December, 1,000 mayors and local leaders pledged themselves to a 100 % renewable future of their municipalities by 2050. The final declaration from 4 December 2015 reads (see the attached document): “We support ambitious long-term climate goals such as a transition to 100 % renewable energy in our communities, or an 80 % greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2050.” This crucial political statement gives new impetus to the international research task Solar Energy in Urban Planning (Task 51), which is part of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme. The main objective of the task headed by Maria Wall, Swedish professor at the Energy and Building Design department of Lund University, is to provide urban planners, authorities and architects with the means of designing urban areas that will enable the integration of active and passive solar energy solutions which can cover a large share of the energy demand. The researchers organised two workshops in Stockholm in March to discuss with representatives from public bodies how to deal with the challenges of interdisciplinary planning processes when trying to retain the aesthetic quality of buildings of cultural and historic significance.
Illustration: Ida Brogren, courtesy of Borås Municipality

Big Ups and Downs on Global Market

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on April 26, 2016
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). 
Figures: solrico, data: see bottom of the article

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

Saudi Arabia: “Cheap might still be too expensive”

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on January 19, 2016
Saudi Arabia Solar Cooling AramcoWith a solar radiation of up to 2,550 kWh/m², Saudi Arabia seems destined to be a frequent user of solar thermal energy. Solar heating and cooling, however, are not very common in the Kingdom. A new housing programme launched by the government is now adding solar water heating to the list of eligible technologies, albeit companies selling to Saudi Arabia have so far only reported a small number of prestigious projects. The photo shows a solar cooling demonstration plant at the headquarters of the kingdom’s oil company, Aramco, in Dhahran. The system, which came into operation in November 2014, offers high-vacuum flat MT-Power panels by Swiss manufacturer TVP Solar and runs a double-effect absorption chiller with 180 °C to produce cold air for Saudi Aramco's Al-Munirah Community Library. Still, solar thermal energy seems to remain a niche market in the eyes of the government, which has just published a new energy strategy for the coming years – the policy document primarily mentions PV, CSP and nuclear energy to offset the rising domestic consumption of the nation’s main export commodity: oil. 
Photo: TVP Solar

Costa Rica: Rising Energy Prices to Benefit Solar Water Heating

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on November 25, 2015
Swissol Costa RicaCosta Ricans currently spend up to 40 % of their electricity bill on hot water supply. With an average annual increase of 5.3 %, the demand for electricity has quadrupled over the last 20 years and prices have more than doubled during the same period. Therefore, one should assume solar water heaters to be popular in a country where solar irradiation is as high as 2,100 W per m² and year. Unfortunately, the Costa Rican Statistical Office does not provide any figures on the total collector area installed across the country. 
Photo: Swissol

Switzerland: Shift towards Multi-Family Housing Projects

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on September 21, 2015
Market development SwitzerlandIn June, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy published its annual solar market report carried out by the solar energy association Swissolar (see the attached document in German and French). In 2014, sales of glazed collectors dropped by 7 %, down to 113,000 m² of absorber area. Vacuum tube collectors had a share of 13 %. The statistics also include 4,487 m² of unglazed collectors. The chart shows the shares of the different collector technologies over the years.
Source: Swissolar

Workshop Solar Energy and Heat Pumps, Rapperswil

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on July 10, 2015
The all-day workshop on the topic "Solar energy and heat pumps” organised by the Institut für Solartechnik SPF will take place at the Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil on 18 November 2015. Various speakers from research and practice will present  results and analysis of heat pump systems in combination with solar thermal, photovoltaic, or PVT. In open discussions current developments can be discussed. with one exception the presentations will be held in German. Participation is free, but registration is required.


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