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District Heating

On-site collector testing: new standard in development

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on May 17, 2018
Photo: Riccardo BattistiOnce a large solar field is set up at its designated location, what tests can be conducted to show that it performs as expected? Soon, the IEA Solar Heating & Cooling Programme may have an answer to this question, as it is working on internationalising Denmark’s testing procedure. No decision has been made on whether the procedure will become part of a full-fledged standard or be turned into a technical specification. 
Photo: Riccardo Battisti

How to identify suitable areas for SDH

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on May 9, 2018
Chart: Hamburg InstitutThough the availability of areas for large solar district heating plants remains a major point of contention, there are ways to expand the market. They include detailed local heat plans, the use of unconventional, e.g., polluted or contaminated, areas, and awareness raising among public and private stakeholders. A webinar organised as part of the Horizon 2020 project SDHp2m…from Policy to Market put a spotlight on these topics in February. A recording of the session is available online.
Chart: Hamburg Institut
 

First Spanish solar district heating system for 12,000 families

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on May 7, 2018
Source: Ayuntamiento de Alcalá de HenaresIn February, Alcalá Ecoenergías signed a deal to construct a district heating system powered by solar and biomass in Alcalá de Henares, a city in Spain. The agreement between the local company and the municipal government will lead to one of the country’s first-ever large-scale solar district heating systems, intended to provide 12,000 homes with renewable heat. The EUR 38 million investment, of which EUR 32 million have been allocated for biomass and EUR 6 million for solar thermal, near Spain’s capital of Madrid is expected to be completed by late 2019 (see the design study on the left). Several other solar district heating projects are under development. 
Source: Ayuntamiento de Alcalá de Henares

Record participation at SDH 2018 in Graz

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on May 3, 2018
Photo: Climate and Energy FundThe 5th International Solar District Heating Conference, which took place in Graz, Austria, in mid-April, brought together 350 experts from 33 countries. It had twice as many attendees as the previous one in Billund, Denmark, in 2016 and attracted representatives from several development banks, such as the German KfW, the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank via its group member International Finance Corporation, or IFC. The photo shows the conference’s supporters and its three organisers, namely Christian Fink (second from left), Austrian research institute AEE INTEC; Thomas Pauschinger (fifth from left in the back), German research institute Solites; and  Werner Lutsch, Managing Director of the German Heat & Power Association, or AGFW for short (second from right). 
Photo: Climate and Energy Fund

Parabolic trough collector production line shipped to China

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on April 24, 2018
Photo: AbsoliconAbsolicon, a Swedish supplier of concentrating solar thermal technology, has recently delivered its first production line to a Chinese company. The equipment to manufacture parabolic trough collectors, which the Swedish business developed in-house, arrived in China in mid-April. The line is now being set up at Heli New Energy Technology, in the country’s southwestern province of Sichuan. The photo, which dates from December 2016, shows the partners involved in the project after they signed the purchase agreement for the system. Heli New Energy is a joint venture between two Chinese companies, namely Xinkun, a family-owned manufacturer, and Jointeam, an energy project developer.
Photo: Absolicon 

“Contract market fluctuates from year to year”

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on April 17, 2018
Ole Dalby, CEO of Arcon-Sunmark2017 was a difficult year for solar district heating supplier Arcon-Sunmark based in Denmark. The collector manufacturer’s turnover dropped from Danish Krone (DKK) 457 million, or USD 75 million, to DKK 98 million, or USD 16.2 million, according to a press release published on 21 March 2018. The uncertain country’s energy policy caused a delay in the launch of new SDH projects in the second half of 2016. Consequently, pre-tax profit went from DKK 46 million (USD 7.6 million) in 2016 to minus DKK 99 million (USD 16.3 million) in 2017. “We have made the necessary adjustments. At the same time, we have invested in retaining the clear market leader position that we achieved over the years,” Ole Dalby, CEO of Arcon-Sunmark (see photo), said.

Sweden: Pioneer of solar district heating

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on April 13, 2018
Chart: Sven WernerWhen it comes to district heating, Sweden has made the switch from fossil fuels to biomass and waste heat (see chart). As early as 2015, biomass provided 46 % of the energy in district heating networks across the country, followed by 24 % from waste incineration and 8 % from industrial excess heat. Fossil fuels came only to about 7 % of the around 175 petajoules, or PJ, produced in Sweden in 2015 (latest data available). These percentages, and the chart, were taken from a 2017 paper titled District heating and cooling in Sweden, written by Sven Werner, Professor Emeritus at the Swedish Halmstad University. Sweden is one of the participating countries of Task 55 Towards the Integration of Large SHC Systems into DHC Networks of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling programme. The researchers plan to publish a report with country portraits of selected solar district heating markets in 2019. 
Chart: Sven Werner

Second winter for 75,000 m² SDH heating system in Inner Mongolia

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on April 11, 2018
Photo: Sohu.comSince October 2016, a 75,000 m² parabolic trough collector field for district heat seems to have been operating in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in China. Ruicheng Zheng from the China Academy of Building Research and Hongzhi Cheng said that they had heard about the system, but that all the information on it was only available online. On 28 December 2017, a news article appeared on sohu.com, one of China’s largest online media companies, stating that the system supplied a shopping centre and a development project known as ZhongCheng International City in the village of HongQing De, near Baotou. The journalist who interviewed the owners of the residential buildings and the shopping centre found customers satisfied with the solar space heating that the system provides. 
Photo: Sohu.com

Big Solar Germany: Utility-scale solar heat at record-low 36 EUR/MWh

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on April 3, 2018
Christian HolterOperators of several gas-driven combined cycle power plants, or CCPPs, have notified the German Federal Network Agency of their systems’ final shutdown. These plants are no longer economically viable, as they have been running ever fewer hours because of a high proportion of cost-effective renewable grid electricity. Their shutdown will create a shortage of supply in district heating networks providing thermal energy to German municipalities. Utility-scale solar thermal plants equipped with seasonal storage could help close the gap at heat prices of around 36 EUR/MWh, Christian Holter said. Holter is the Managing Director of Austrian turnkey system supplier S.O.L.I.D., which has carried out feasibility studies on behalf of several European cities.

Tibet´s highly subsidised solar heating market

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on April 2, 2018
Tibet is currently in the focus of the Chinese central government’s efforts to improve the heating situation of the population. The lack of space heating in many buildings in the region, which is subject to a continental climate marked by cold winters, has prompted China’s government to support the installation of solar district heating systems. In addition to Chinese-Danish joint venture Arcon-Sunmark Large-Scale Solar Systems Integration, Chinese parabolic trough collector manufacturer Vicot Solar Technology has signed a contract with the local government to install a solar district heating system in the autonomous region of Tibet. The photo, taken in November 2017, shows one-third of the field’s substructure. The entire installation will have 18,000 m2 of aperture area which is defined as the flat, rectangular area specified by the outer perimeter of the mirrors.
Photo: Vicot Solar Technology
 

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