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.
Italy’s solar thermal market experienced another 10 % drop in 2016 despite the availability of at least two appealing incentive schemes: a 65 % tax reduction for small systems and Conto Termico 2.0, a revised national support scheme in place since the beginning of 2016 to support plants of up to 2,500 m². To find out more about the primary reasons for the continuing decline of the national market, solarthermalworld.org spoke with Federico Musazzi, Secretary General of Assotermica, the Italian Association of Manufacturers of Equipment and Components for Heating Systems, and official at the umbrella organisation ANIMA, the Federation of Italian Associations in the Mechanical and Engineering Industries.
Professor Vitaly A. Butuzov is one of Russia’s well-known experts on solar heating and cooling. He is professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering, Heat and Renewable Energy of Kuban State Agrarian University in Krasnodar, the capital of the region which bears its name. This region is one of the main economic centres in southern Russia. Additionally, Butuzov is Director of Krasnodar Power Technologies, which offers solar thermal systems in combination with geothermal units and energy efficiency projects. Solarthermalworld.org spoke with him about market development in Russia.
Two large industry events in China over the last months have shown that there is great demand for discussion regarding the transformation of the domestic solar heating and cooling market. The Green Business Forum attracted around 1,000 solar thermal stakeholders to Dezhou in Shandong province from 22 to 25 September, and several hundred industry representatives took part in the annual assembly of the Chinese Solar Thermal Industry Federation (CSTIF) from 7 to 9 December in Kunming, Yunnan province (see photo). According to the latest CSTIF figures, the solar thermal market experienced a sharp 9 % decline last year from 43.5 million m² to 39.5 million m², which reduced it to 60 % of the size it had had in the peak year of 2013.
The biannual SolarTR 2016 conference attracted more than 1,000 national and international solar energy stakeholders to Istanbul, Turkey, between 6 and 8 December 2016. The science- and technology-focused event showcased the development of PV technology across the country and around the globe and offered presentations in parallel sessions in Turkish and English, in particular about solar heating and cooling. “We had a dense programme with around 40 speakers in 9 different sessions and 14 keynote speeches dealing with the visions for and the strategic issues of solar energy applications, their opportunities and challenges,” said Kemal Gani Bayraktar, President of GÜNDER, the Turkish Solar Energy Society, and host and co-organiser of the conference in close collaboration with universities, industries, public institutions and non-governmental organisations.
Romania can hardly be said to have taken the lead in solar thermal deployment: With only 5.6 kWth of installed solar thermal capacity per 1,000 people in 2015, the country ranked below average in the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) statistics. Even its neighbour south of the Danube river, Bulgaria, had 13 kWth installed. An overall lack of awareness of solar thermal benefits among Romanians seems to be the main barrier preventing large-scale market penetration, a team of authors from the universities in Brasov, Galati and Bacau write in Economic and Environmental Analysis of Investing in Solar Water Heating Systems. On 8 December 2016, the extensive study on the economic potential of SWH systems and their contribution to energy saving and CO2 reduction (see the attached PDF) was made available on the Basel-based open-access platform of the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI).
The Romanian Ministry of Energy has published a draft of its Energy Strategy 2016-2030, including an outlook until 2050. The roadmap is based on five strategic objectives, which have been combined to resemble a building (see figure on the left). The roadmap’s authors also propose several key areas for strategic intervention as described below. In 2007, Romania adopted a National Energy Strategy which will last until 2020. The new document will soon be subject to parliamentary debate and is expected to be approved by parliament in the first half of 2017. Both the English summary and the complete Energy Strategy draft in Romanian have been attached to this news article.
On 24 November, the fifth Solar Heat Switzerland (Solarwärme Schweiz) conference organised by the solar industry association Swissolar, the building services association suissetec and the Federal Office of Energy was held in Lucerne, Switzerland. As 2017 funding for solar heat incentives remains in doubt in several cantons and the priorities of the country´s energy policy haven’t been announced yet, the market outlook for solar thermal has not been very encouraging. But there seems to be a ray of hope in the form of low-temperature collectors for borehole regeneration and solar district heating. Click here to download the German-language presentations from the conference.
The IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report or MTRMR 2016 again includes a chapter on renewable heating and cooling – and it’s growing in size. The 282-page document published from Singapore on 25 October analyses on 47 pages the current and future market development of four renewable heating technologies: biomass, solar thermal, geothermal and heat pumps. The IEA began to add a renewable heating chapter to its MTRMR in 2013 – back then, it had only 14 pages. The authors of this year’s edition emphasise the fact that onshore wind and solar PV are the only renewable technologies on track for a 2 °C target.
In September 2016, Roger Hackstock returned as Managing Director of Austria Solar after having already occupied this position between 2002 and 2013. In the three years that he was not at the helm of the Austrian industry association, Hackstock published a book on the “Energiewende” (energy transition), worked as programme manager for the country’s Climate and Energy Fund and coordinated the Storage initiative as an independent consultant. During our interview, he spoke about the challenges solar heat has had to face over the years, as market demand for system solutions is steadily on the rise, and noted that he was happy to support the industry in this new era.