The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has published an industry roadmap for Renewable Energy in District Heating and Cooling (DHC) as part of its REmap 2030 project. This study analysed the current state of the DHC market in eleven countries – with a focus on district heating in seven and one on district cooling in the other four – and examined the long-term potential of the two technologies in these countries (see the attached PDF). The countries chosen for the study have distinctly different market environments. Two of them are Denmark and Switzerland, which have had the highest share of renewables in their energy supply (around 40 %); a third one is China, the largest market for DHC today, but one on which renewable energy has yet to play a role at all. The chart shows the key factors impacting the potential of renewable DHC. The aim of the renewable energy roadmap (REmap) programme is to show a path towards doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030.
Last year was a record-breaking one for new solar district heating (SDH) installations in Denmark. With 31 new SDH systems and 5 plant expansions, the newly installed collector area grew at double the rate of 2015 and totalled 495,226 m² (347 MWth). The year prior saw 15 plants built and three expanded, while collector area increased by 250,161 m² (175 MWth). Almost all plants newly installed or expanded in 2016 were equipped with flat plate collectors, except for the 18.9 MWth parabolic trough installation in Brønderslev. The annual statistic on SDH installations is maintained by Daniel Trier from Danish consultancy PlanEnergi and starts with the very first large SDH plant in 1988. Trier said that at the end of 2016, there had been 104 SDH plants in operation with a combined collector area of 1.3 million m² (911 MWth).
Wooden-frame solar collectors installed by the German cooperative BUSO Bund Solardach may have been the cause of at least 11 fires in 2015 and 2016, listed by solarsicherheit.com. It looks as if fire broke out during collector stagnation. BUSO, a cooperative of about 100 solar installers, was one of the pioneers of solar roof installations in Germany. It used collectors produced by Buschbeck, a company which went bankrupt last year.
There is a distinct difference between the make-up of the German solar process heat segment and the country’s solar thermal market in general and it concerns the type of collectors used. One in four collectors used in solar process heat systems is an air collector, although the technology contributes only around 10 % to the total collector area newly installed each year. The same has been true for vacuum tube systems, which showed a 35 % share in solar process heat installations among approved projects in 2016 – despite an overall market share of only 9 % last year. All figures are based on statistics provided by the University of Kassel’s Institute of Thermal Engineering, which has been in charge of the research accompanying the subsidy scheme on solar process heat under the auspices of Germany’s Market Rebate Programme for Renewable Energies or MAP.
Chart: solrico, source: Institute of Thermal Engineering, University of Kassel
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).
One year after the relaunch of the tax credit scheme for solar thermal systems in February 2016 (Law 20.897), some preliminary figures show a small increase of Chile’s solar market. But although the subsidy for newbuilds will be in effect until 2020, industry representatives have not been particularly satisfied with the impact of the new legal framework. Their criticism was supported by the fact that the announced subsidy scheme for social housing projects and low-income families has yet to be implemented. The market has improved slightly, but is moving at only half throttle. The photo shows the Villa Verde houses in the coastal city of Constitución. Some of the units which are part of this housing project have a thermosiphon system installed on the roof.
A redesign of lighting systems in office or public buildings helps to save electricity and improve lighting quality, as the office building of the Austrian company Bartenbach on the photos shows. However, lighting systems are rarely upgraded: For example, in Germany, retrofits can only be found in 3 % of the existing building stock and 75 % of lighting systems are out of date, as they are older than 25 years. To support planners and investors in their decision on what would be the most apt lighting retrofit, the researchers of Task 50 of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme, Advanced Lighting Solutions for Retrofitting Buildings, have launched a website called www.lightingretrofitadviser.com and an app for Android and iOS devices. Both provide stakeholders with information about successful case studies of lighting retrofits in buildings, a database of technologies as well as tools, for example, to give direct onsite support for decision making, whether it is sensible to retrofit a lighting system. A webinar on 21 March explained all the services and features of the new website and app. A recording of it is available online.
Traditionally, the ISH has been the biannual forum for the European heating industry to showcase product innovations and new business strategies. The big five in Europe – Bosch Thermotechnik with its brands Buderus and Junkers, Viessmann, Vaillant, Ariston and its Elco brand, and BDR Thermea with its brands Remeha, Brötje and De Dietrich – welcomed tens of thousands of installers to the international five-day business-to-business fair in Frankfurt, Germany, at the beginning of March 2017. They chose two entirely different ways of presenting the new generation of heating solutions: Viessmann and Junkers focused on online marketing and sales, whereas Vaillant and Buderus favoured system integration. “Easy selling” reads the exhibition wall at the booth of Junkers (see photo), where the new online marketing tool was shown to attendees.
Tunisia`s solar thermal market stabilised at 64,000 m2 in 2016, a figure only slightly lower than the 65,000 m2 in 2015 and in 2014, but significantly below the peak years of 2008 to 2010. The key market driver had again been Prosol, the national residential programme launched in 2005 and based on a financial scheme combining direct subsidies of Tunisian Dinar (TND) 200 and 300 granted by the Energy Transition Fund and low-interest loans. With 90 %, residential systems still account for the largest share in newly installed collector area. However, hotels and commercial buildings have profited from Prosol Tertiary since 2009 and contributed around 5 %.