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Switzerland: Borehole Storage Regeneration as Solar Thermal’s Ray of Hope

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on December 22, 2016
Solarwärme SchweizOn 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.
Photo: Swissolar
 

IEA Medium-Term Report: Solar Heating and Cooling Not on Track for 2 °C Scenario

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on December 15, 2016
MTRMR 2016The 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.
 

Austria Solar: ”It’s about faster and simpler access to solar systems”

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on December 14, 2016
Roger HackstockIn 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.
 

Solar Process Heat in Chile: “It is essential to use the ESCO model”

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on November 21, 2016
Roberto RomanThe world’s largest process heat installation has recently completed its third year of operation. The 39,000 m² collector field, which went online in October 2013 at Codelco´s Gabriela Mistral mine, is located 100 kilometres south of the town of Calama in Chile´s high central desert. Planning, delivery and installation of the solar field were done by Chilean-Danish joint-venture Pampa Elvira Solar, which has since been the operator of the system as well. The plant provides around 80 % of the energy required for the last step in copper production, the electrolytic refining of the metal in an acid bath. Solarthermalworld.org spoke with Roberto Roman, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Physics and Mathematical Sciences of the University of Chile. Roman has been part of a university team advising Codelco, Chile´s state-owned mining company, on solar mining from the very beginning.
Photo: Taken from the video interview at the Eurosun 2016
 

India: Growing Demand for Vacuum Tube Technology

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on November 16, 2016
India Market DevelopmentThe Indian market has started to show signs of recovery in the previous financial year from April 2015 to March 2016. A survey carried out by Indian consultant Jaideep Malaviya found the newly installed collector area to have reached a total of 1.55 million m² (1.085 MWth). The share of vacuum tube based systems had been rising steadily and was almost 90 % of the overall low temperature solar collector market in 2015-2016. Assuming some of the older systems are non-functional, the cumulative market was 8.9 million m² in at the end of March 2016. 
Source: MNRE up to and including 2013-2014, market survey by Jaideep Malaviya 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 
 

Argentina: President’s System Order and Planned Energy Price Hikes Boost Solar Thermal

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on October 24, 2016
Argentina EnergeAfter having announced plans to sharply increase energy prices across the country, the Argentine government is said to approve new legislation for promoting solar thermal technology. A new bill, which is expected to be passed by the end of 2016, is thought to create a number of financial incentives, soft loans and a binding obligation for solar water heaters in public buildings. However, the domestic market has already been experiencing remarkable growth: Solar water heaters have gained a significant boost in popularity since this July, when President Mauricio Marci ordered a 260-litre system equipped with a flat plate collector from Energe, one of Argentina’s major solar thermal suppliers. The photo posted on Energe's Facebook page shows the president (middle) and a team from the company at the new solar thermal installation. 
Source: Energe 
 

District heating: “The industry is very optimistic about its future prospects”

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on September 23, 2016

Ralf Roman SchmidtDistrict heating has a long history in Scandinavia: The international symposium on district heating was launched there in 1987. In the meantime, the technology has reached the global stage and the 15th International Symposium on District Heating and Cooling was the first one supported by the IEA District Heating and Cooling programme (IEA DHC). Dr Ralf Roman Schmidt had been invited to speak at this two-day conference held in South Korea in September and attended by more than 200 people. The research engineer from the AIT, Austrian Institute of Technology, is about to become Austria’s alternate country representative within the IEA DHC.

Mexico: Ongoing Struggle over Legally Binding Standards

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on August 24, 2016
CONUEEDespite being the most robust solar thermal market across North and South America in terms of growth (8 % YoY in 2015), Mexico is still struggling domestically to harmonise its quality standards for solar thermal heaters. The lack of understanding between local producers and equipment importers has been the main hurdle to legally binding and uniform rules. However, the process is ongoing and the market’s stakeholders expect a draft of the official NOM-027-ENER-2015 to be available for public consultation by the end of 2016.
Chart: CONUEE
 

Germany: Today’s System Suppliers Wary of Fixed-Price Marketing Campaigns

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on August 8, 2016
Sonnenkraft Advertising 2005 and 2015The German solar thermal market is still stuck in recession. Although incentives are higher than they have ever been, demand has not really picked up over the first five months of this year, according to the market statistics by the two associations BSW Solar and BDH. The total collector area sold until the end of May was again down by 5.3 % compared to the previous year, although vacuum tubes have been more strongly affected by the slump (-18 %) than flat plate collectors (-4 %). Installers are viewed as the bottleneck in the supply chain and an increasing number of solar thermal suppliers have run advert campaigns to try and reach end customers on their own. Solarthermalworld.org has already reported on the new end-customer sales strategies employed by Thermondo. This article describes how the campaigns of another German system supplier, Sonnenkraft, have changed over the years. The image depicts an advertisement for the campaign from 2005 (left) and one from 2015 (right).
Image: Sonnenkraft
 

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. 
 

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