The Republic of Macedonia has been in a state of political turmoil for some time. The most recent general election was held in December 2016, but it is still unclear whether a new government can be formed. Considering the circumstances, the provisional authorities have taken laudable steps to maintain a sense of continuity when it comes to national renewable energy policy. In late January, the Ministry of Economy extended the Programme for partial subsidising of purchased and installed solar thermal collectors in households. “This scheme has been a success since its implementation in 2007 and attracts broad interest,” the country’s economy minister, Driton Kuchi, explained on TV Nova on 7 February. Online news portal Tocka reports that between 2007 and 2016 (see the chart above), the programme supported 4,237 households with a total of Macedonian Denar (MKD) 54 million (around EUR 900,000).
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.
Austrian collector manufacturer Tisun is currently the supplier for three major projects in Kuwait (Graphic), Abu Dhabi and Qatar. Its subsidiary, Tisun GCC, and two Dubai stakeholders have been the ones helping the company enter the Arab markets. Since 2010, Tisun has had a local subsidiary in Dubai, Tisun GCC. Tisun’s first reference project in the region was a 500 m² solar field built in 2012 for a food-processing factory and it has opened many doors since.
For more than 35 years, Thermocell collectors have been exclusively manufactured in New Zealand. Developed and commercialised in the late 1970s by Professor Emeritus Arthur Williamson from the University of Canterbury, these patented collector types have been produced in Christchurch ever since. In the peak years of 2005 and 2006, about 12 staff worked for Thermocell in administration, production and installation. As New Zealand’s solar thermal market has declined significantly over the past ten years, only two of those people are left today. “Arthur developed a reliable technology and we are maintaining systems which are more than 30 years old,” confirmed Ian Johns, General Manager of Sunstream Solar, a Thermocell collector reseller and installer from Christchurch. The photo shows Williamson in front of a “heat sheet”, the unique feature of Thermocell systems.
Photos: University of Canterbury / Sunstream Solar
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 spring 2015, Germany´s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) introduced a performance-based incentive for solar heating as an alternative to the scheme offering incentives based on collector area. Recently published statistics have shown the new programme to grant higher financial support for about one-third of the currently funded projects. The others still receive funding from the previously established scheme.
The relaunched Green House Programme (Casa Verde) has been a very popular national residential subsidy scheme across Romania. According to the Environmental Fund Administration (EFA), as many as 3,748 homeowners submitted an application on 10 October 2016, the starting day of the new two-week submission period ending on 24 October. The Green House programme subsidises solar thermal systems as well as heat pumps.
After 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.
Although Bulgaria is a country with many green or mountainous areas, it has had to grapple with severe air pollution caused not only by old cars, but also by wood-fuelled heating systems, which are popular across the country. The European Environment Agency has recently rated the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, as the most polluted one in Europe. Last year, the conservative government of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov stepped up to the plate and announced the National Programme for Energy Efficiency of Multi-Family Residential Buildings (NPEE). Its aim is to provide billions of euros for making several thousand residential buildings energy efficient until the end of 2018 – with no charges to flat owners. The photo shows three blocks of flats awaiting modernisation.
There is now nothing in the way of constructing an impressive solar heating and cooling installation in Nicaragua. At the end of September, the last signatures were placed under the contract documents for a 4,450 m² collector field which will supply air conditioning and warm water to the Hospital Militar Escuela Dr. Alejandro Dávila Bolaños in Managua (see photo), the capital city of the central American nation. “Installation work will start in January 2017, and commissioning is planned for the second quarter of next year,” was how Christian Holter, Managing Director of S.O.L.I.D, outlined the ambitious plan. The Austrian turnkey system supplier had been struggling for over three years to receive financing for the 4 million EUR project in form of a soft loan, a financing instrument for developing countries.
Photo: Hospital Militar Escuela Dr. Alejandro Dávila Bolaños