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).
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.
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 (30.5 to 27.7 GWth), which reduced it to 60 % of the size it had had in the peak year of 2013.
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).
Last year, the amount of newly installed glazed collector area added up to 2.7 million m² (1.9 GWth) in the European Union’s E28 and Switzerland combined. It is another decline compared to the previous year, this time by 7 %. The annual market statistics of the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) show 23,700 people to have been employed by the solar thermal sector Europe-wide, whereas turnover was EUR 1.9 billion overall. The four-page market survey published in November includes the country-specific figures of all 28 EU countries and Switzerland. Most of the data was provided by national associations, energy agencies or industry companies, although the markets of six smaller countries were estimated by the ESTIF team. The survey can be downloaded by filling in a form on the organisation’s website. A full report will be available to ESTIF members in early December.
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.
Last year, the Israeli market saw a significant increase in newly installed glazed collector area, showing a total of 428,750 m² or a 9 % increase compared to the previous year. Eli Shilton, Managing Director of Israeli solar thermal system supplier Elsol, believes that a hail storm last winter was responsible for the greater demand for system replacement. “Since local collectors have standard glass covers, the hail storm broke a lot of the glass,” Shilton explained and added: “People are not worried about it, as the systems were covered by insurance and most owners will be reimbursed for all of the damage caused.” Thirty years of experience have made Eli Shilton a well-recognised expert in the Israeli solar thermal industry. The photos show centralised solar thermal systems on new multi-family buildings in Israel.
In 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.