Last year was a record-breaking one for new solar district heating (SDH) installations in Denmark. With 31 new SDH systems and 5 plant expansions, the newly installed collector area grew at double the rate of 2015 and totalled 495,226 m² (347 MWth). The year prior saw 15 plants built and three expanded, while collector area increased by 250,161 m² (175 MWth). Almost all plants newly installed or expanded in 2016 were equipped with flat plate collectors, except for the 18.9 MWth parabolic trough installation in Brønderslev. The annual statistic on SDH installations is maintained by Daniel Trier from Danish consultancy PlanEnergi and starts with the very first large SDH plant in 1988. Trier said that at the end of 2016, there had been 104 SDH plants in operation with a combined collector area of 1.3 million m² (911 MWth).
China’s shift away from residential towards commercial solar thermal applications continues: The collector area of newly installed solar water heaters in single-family buildings declined by 26 % in 2016, whereas the ‘engineering segment’ remained stable last year (see the table below). This segment is comprised of all non-domestic hot water applications, such as space heating and cooling as well as applications in industry and agriculture. Overall, its share in the newly installed collector area went from 61 to 68 %. All figures were taken from the Report on the State of China 's Solar Thermal Industry (July to December 2016), a document drafted by Dezhou-based consultancy Sun’s Visions on behalf of CSTIF, the Chinese Solar Thermal Industry Federation. CSTIF has presented this report – which also includes several development strategies – to the National Energy Board.
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).
One year after the relaunch of the tax credit scheme for solar thermal systems in February 2016 (Law 20.897), some preliminary figures show a small increase of Chile’s solar market. But although the subsidy for newbuilds will be in effect until 2020, industry representatives have not been particularly satisfied with the impact of the new legal framework. Their criticism was supported by the fact that the announced subsidy scheme for social housing projects and low-income families has yet to be implemented. The market has improved slightly, but is moving at only half throttle. The photo shows the Villa Verde houses in the coastal city of Constitución. Some of the units which are part of this housing project have a thermosiphon system installed on the roof.
Tunisia`s solar thermal market stabilised at 64,000 m2 in 2016, a figure only slightly lower than the 65,000 m2 in 2015 and in 2014, but significantly below the peak years of 2008 to 2010. The key market driver had again been Prosol, the national residential programme launched in 2005 and based on a financial scheme combining direct subsidies of Tunisian Dinar (TND) 200 and 300 granted by the Energy Transition Fund and low-interest loans. With 90 %, residential systems still account for the largest share in newly installed collector area. However, hotels and commercial buildings have profited from Prosol Tertiary since 2009 and contributed around 5 %.
The California Solar Initiative (CSI) – Thermal Program seems to have stabilised at around 20,000 m² (or around 200,000 ft²) of subsidised collector area per year. Commercial applications dominate the statistics, although there was a spike in the share of residential systems in 2016. The peak in applications for commercial pool heating in 2014 was due to the late addition of this type of system to the state subsidy scheme. It took almost a year before the level of incentives and other requirements were set, so that all the applications piling up over that period had to be processed in 2014. The data in the chart was provided by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and shows the subsidised and installed collector area for each year.
Spain’s solar thermal market experienced a year-on-year drop of 12 % in 2016 and ended up at 212,190 m2 (149 MWth) of newly installed collector area. As in 2015, the main reasons for the contraction were the lack of finished newbuilds and the end of regional incentives, such as the ones in the Spanish region of Andalusia. However, the construction industry is slowly starting to recover and new government incentives may boost the market this year. Additionally, local manufacturers have expanded their export business. All in all, the country’s solar thermal industry generated a turnover of EUR 170 million in 2016 and employed 4,250 people. These and other results can be found in the annual report published by the Spanish solar thermal association ASIT last week (see the attached PDF).
Lebanon seems to be one of only a handful of countries that are on track for meeting their solar thermal targets. The market statistics from the Lebanese Centre for Energy Conservation (LCEC) show around 250,000 m² of collector area were installed between 2009 and 2014, which exceeded the government’s aim of 190,000 m² for the same period. The second target set in 2009 – a collector area of 1 million m² by 2020 – is just as realistic, LCEC confirmed in its recently published National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) for the Republic of Lebanon 2016-2020 (see the attached document). The chart shows an estimated market increase of 600,000 m² between 2016 and 2020. The LCEC researchers and authors of Lebanon’s second NREAP also underline the importance of continuing the country’s financing mechanism.
Three weeks before the ISH 2017 opens its doors again between 14 and 18 March 2017, the German renewable heating associations published their annual market statistics for 2016. The trend is clear: Low oil and gas prices have reduced demand for solar water heating systems (-8 %) and biomass boilers (-3 %), whereas the German heat pump industry can be more than satisfied with 17 % growth. The ISH is Europe’s largest trade fair for bathroom design, energy-efficient heating, air conditioning and renewable energies and takes place every two years in Frankfurt, Germany.
Argentina has officially declared 2017 the Renewable Energy Year. A recent report published by the Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Industrial (INTI), a division of the Ministry of Industry, confirms that the national solar thermal market has been growing: An industry survey shows the solar heat segment to have doubled each year between 2012 and 2015, and another increase is expected for 2016. Meanwhile new legislation intended to promote the Use of Solar Thermal Energy of Low and Medium Temperature is still on hold, but stakeholders see it being approved over the next two months.