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.
The use of solar heat is becoming increasingly popular in Belarus, an eastern European country with around 10 million population. Official statistics from the Ministry of Energy put the number of systems installed across the country at 287; their combined collector area, however, has not been recorded. This article presents a selection of the solar thermal systems partly in residential use, but some have also been integrated into the facade of commercial buildings (left photo) as well as educational and healthcare facilities (right). Their collector size ranges from 4 to 100 m2.
Photos: All photos in this news article were provided by the owners of the solar thermal systems
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.
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 Tochkareports 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, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. Its subsidiary, Tisun GCC with 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.