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Domestic Hot Water and Heating

USA: Extended Tax Credits for Weak Solar Thermal Market

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 24, 2016
CalseiaAgainst all odds, the solar heating tax credits in the USA were extended again by 5 years. On 18 December 2015, the Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed, including an extension of the so-called federal Investment Tax Credits up to 2021. Originally, the tax incentives were expected to end on 31 December 2016 after an eleven-year period since 2005, with one previous extension in 2008. They allow both residential and commercial investors of solar PV and solar thermal systems to deduct 30 % of the investment costs at the next tax declaration.
Photo: Calseia.org

Austria: Low Oil Price and Lack of Political Support Weakens Market

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 15, 2016
Heating with oilAccording to the ISOL Index by solrico and market data from the industry association Austria Solar, the solar thermal industry is heading into another year of declining markets. Low oil prices and corresponding campaigns of the fossil heating industry have had a substantial impact on this renewable technology. The banner shows the slogan “Heizen mit Öl – das zahlt sich aus” (The Benefits of Using Oil to Heat Your Home) on the website of the Austrian mineral oil industry, which offers grants of EUR 2,500 for the installation of a condensing oil boiler in a single-family building. Austria Solar has also criticised the reduction in the renewable budget of the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund as well as the complicated incentive scheme rules throughout the states. The large-scale project market is what keeps the industry alive. 

Italy: Conto Termico 2.0 Refers to Expected Yield

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 12, 2016
The latest statistics of Conto Termico in Italy show that the national incentive scheme has still not been used enough: As of 1 January 2016, it had supported only 62 solar thermal plants for public buildings, while the private sector figure was 10,634. Assuming an average plant size of 7 m², as estimated by Gestore dei Servizi Energetici (GSE), this corresponds to a total subsidised collector area of 75,000 m² – a fairly low result over the 30 months of the scheme. The subsidy volume for solar thermal now amounts to about EUR 27.5 million, around half of the total incentives which have so far been distributed by Conto Termico. This is again a rather small figure compared to an originally planned budget of EUR 900 million. GSE, the state-owned administrator of Conto Termico, has therefore modified the scheme rules. 

Great Britain: Rumours of Closing down Renewable Heat Incentives

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 10, 2016
GreenshopSince the win at the general election May 2015, the UK Conservative Party has made significant changes to policies that were related to energy and environment protection. These include the currently in parliament discussed reduction of subsidies for wind and solar PV with the Feed-In tariffs and the reduction of the renewable quote for electricity suppliers, that are stipulated to source an increasing proportion of electricity from renewable sources. Also the climate change levy (CCL) exemption from renewable electricity schemes has been removed and the Green Deal and ‘zero carbon’ homes initiatives have been abandoned. These cuts were justified by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) who announced these would be “….Reducing energy bills for hard working British families and businesses and meeting climate goals in the most cost effective way ….. ” 
Photo: The Greenshop Group

Czech Republic: Residential Subsidy Scheme until 2021, More Eligible Technologies

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 8, 2016
PropulsAfter two shorter application periods, the Czech residential subsidy scheme Nova Zelena Usporam (New Green Savings) started into the third round on 22 October 2015 and is planned to run until the end of 2021. Whereas the first round had Czech Koruna (CZK) 1.9 billion allocated to the programme (April to December 2014) and the second one had to be content with CZK 0.9 billion (May to July 2015), there is now a total budget of CZK 27 billion, corresponding to CZK 4.4 billion per year. In absolute figures, it seems like an increase, but in view of the larger number of subsidised technologies, it is rather a budget reduction. Photovoltaic systems and connections to district heating and heat recovery are among the newly supported technologies. The good news for solar thermal system investors: There is no longer a requirement for an energy audit of the building before solar space heating is purchased. The first and second round required this audit in case of a combi system. 
Photo: Propuls

Portugal: New Government with Good Intentions but Lack of Action

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on January 30, 2016
Solrico Portugal Market AssessmentAfter a politically unstable last quarter of 2015, Portugal’s path for the next years seems to be finally set. The new socialist government, led by António Costa, took office by the end of November and brought back the old promise of supporting renewable energy sources. At least, this is what the government programme shows, the intention to encourage solar thermal use. The industry looks slightly more optimistic into 2016. According to the ISOL Index survey carried out in September 2015, more than a third of the participating 13 solar thermal system suppliers in Portugal expect a growing market, while 39 % expect a stable one this year. 
Source: solrico

Concentrating Solar Heat in Spain: An Untapped Market

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on January 29, 2016
FresnelLast December, the Spanish Advanced Technology Center for Renewable Energies, CTAER, and the Solar Concentra forum in Spain released a study which evaluated the potential of medium- and low-temperature solar thermal concentration technologies across Spain (between 100 and 400 °C). The study, entitled Applications and market potential of medium-temperature concentrating solar power technologies in Spain, concludes that these technologies have already been cost-competitive with some alternatives, such as oil and gas, in the industrial and residential segments, and it provides some recommendations to promote this promising market. The photo shows one of the very few solar process heat installations in Spain with concentrating technology. It is a pilot plant with a Fresnel collector which has been supplying the animal feed production unit of Spanish company Grasas del Guadalquivir in Cordoba since in March 2015. 
Photo: INERSUR from CTAER study

SHC2015: The Challenge of Smart Heating

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on January 22, 2016
After several quickly receding waves of smart home hypes, the current trend to link devices in residential homes seems comparably stable. Drivers of the development are energy, security and comfort. Although new products and services for smart homes focus on electricity usage, Uwe Trenkner is convinced that modern communication technologies are another important factor for solar heating. The consultant from Brussels, Belgium, was co-author of the Technical Study Report on Measuring, Remote Monitoring and Remote Controlling for Solar Thermal Systems, which was published at the end of last year (see the attached document). Solarthermalworld.org interviewed the expert during the Solar Heating and Cooling Conference (SHC2015) in Istanbul, Turkey, in December 2015.
 

Saudi Arabia: “Cheap might still be too expensive”

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on January 19, 2016
Saudi Arabia Solar Cooling AramcoWith a solar radiation of up to 2,550 kWh/m², Saudi Arabia seems destined to be a frequent user of solar thermal energy. Solar heating and cooling, however, are not very common in the Kingdom. A new housing programme launched by the government is now adding solar water heating to the list of eligible technologies, albeit companies selling to Saudi Arabia have so far only reported a small number of prestigious projects. The photo shows a solar cooling demonstration plant at the headquarters of the kingdom’s oil company, Aramco, in Dhahran. The system, which came into operation in November 2014, offers high-vacuum flat MT-Power panels by Swiss manufacturer TVP Solar and runs a double-effect absorption chiller with 180 °C to produce cold air for Saudi Aramco's Al-Munirah Community Library. Still, solar thermal energy seems to remain a niche market in the eyes of the government, which has just published a new energy strategy for the coming years – the policy document primarily mentions PV, CSP and nuclear energy to offset the rising domestic consumption of the nation’s main export commodity: oil. 
Photo: TVP Solar
 

Slovakia: Solar Collectors Second Most Favourite Choice for Green Homes

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on January 15, 2016
Green HomesThe long-awaited support scheme for the utilisation of renewable energy sources in residential buildings, Green Homes, was launched on 1 December 2015 – finally, one might say, as its start had already been planned for August 2015. With the EU-funded programme, the Slovak government intends to get homeowners to transform their energy supply ecologically. Any kind of small-scale renewable technology is eligible for the programme. Not only residential homeowners will get back up to 50% of their project costs, but also associations of flat owners are eligible for financial support, whereas companies are not entitled to any incentive (see further information in the database of incentive programmes). The chart from the programme´s website shows the three most favourite technologies during the first allocation period: photovoltaics, solar thermal and heat pumps.
 

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