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Molten salt storage 33 times cheaper than lithium-ion batteries

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 12, 2018
Cost-effective energy storage is key to transitioning to a low-carbon society. Energy can be stored in the form of heat or electricity. A popular storage method for high-temperature thermal applications is a molten salt tank. Fact sheets created by the German Energy Storage Association, or BVES for short, show that molten salt tanks are around 33 times less expensive than electric batteries when it comes to storing a kilowatt-hour in them. 
Image: Frenell
 

Flat plate collector sales in China reach a record 6 million m2 in 2017

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 10, 2018
2017 saw again an increase in flat plate collector area in China. Newly installed flat plate collector area rose by 13 %, whereas vacuum tube collector area declined by 9 % (see the table at the end of this article). Estimates by CSTIF, the Chinese Solar Thermal Industry Federation, put the size of the 2017 flat plate collector market at 6.03 million m2 (4,221 MWth). Jinheng Solar, a flat plate collector manufacturer based in Dezhou in Shandong province, responded to the positive development by expanding production capacity last year. The photo shows the company’s new automated production lines. 
Photo: BTE Solar / Jinheng Solar
 

Spain’s 2017 figures show increase in collector production despite declining market

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 6, 2018
2017 saw the Spanish solar thermal market dropping by 5 % to 201,505 m2, or 141 MWth, but surpassing 4 million m2 overall, totalling 4,106,195 m2, or 2.87 GWth. The main reason for the downward trend had been the poor showing of regional support schemes, Spain’s solar thermal industry federation, ASIT, said. Still, economic growth is bolstering the construction sector, and a rising number of newbuilds might put the market back on track this year. In addition, the collector industry showed a 33 % increase, to 198,525 m2, in 2017. Most of the amount, 63 % to be precise, was exported.
Source: ASIT

India: Flat plates up, concentrating technologies down

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 1, 2018
Source: Jaideep MalaviyaIn 2017, India’s solar thermal market shifted heavily in favour of flat plate collectors, with systems based on concentrating technologies losing ground. The chart shows the annually installed flat plate collector area to have more than doubled last year compared to 2016. It went from 150,476 m² (105 MWth) to 397,286 m² (278 MWth) an increase by 164 %. Installation figures for solar water heaters based on imported vacuum tubes rose by 7 % to 1,120,963 m² (785 MWth). Concentrating collector sales, on the other hand, only added 5,450 m² to the total, a much lower value than the 26,040 m² in 2016. The reference period for the annual statistics was changed in 2016. It is now the calendar year, whereas it used to be the Indian financial year, which runs from 1 April to 31 March the following year.
Source: Jaideep Malaviya
 

Solar district heating on the Roof of the World

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 27, 2018
Photo: Task 55A contract to set up a solar district heating network in Langkazi county in Tibet has been awarded to Arcon-Sunmark Large-Scale Solar Systems. The Chinese-Danish joint venture signed an agreement with the local government of the autonomous region of Tibet. The system should provide solar district heating for 82,600 m² of floor area and meet 90 % of the yearly space heating demand in Langkazi, the town sharing its name with the county. The system, planned to be set up by November, will consist of a 22,000 m² collector field, 15,000 m³ of pit storage and a 3-MW electric boiler. The sponsor of the pilot project is China’s central government.
Photo: Task 55

Sonnenkraft, Holter and Tisun – the changing face of Austria’s industry

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 26, 2018
Photo: Thomas PirkerTwo strategic decisions taken by Austrian-based supplier Sonnenkraft in early 2018 have strengthened its position on the market. First, it secured an exclusive national distribution agreement with Holter, an Austrian wholesaler of heating equipment. Installers of Sonnenkraft equipment can now order products and systems on digital sales portal Holter online as opposed to getting them directly from the company. Second, on 4 December 2017, the supplier acquired the remaining 49 % stake in Austrian collector manufacturer Tisun, a competitor from which it had already purchased 51 % of the shares in May 2017. On 5 February 2018, the new owner asked for Tisun to be put into administration and an insolvency practitioner is now leading the restructuring effort. 
Photo: Thomas Pirker

Solar cooling increases annual solar fraction

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 24, 2018
Task 53 1Solar cooling could be an effective way to increase the annual solar fraction of domestic hot water production and prevent the solar system from overheating in summer. Under the aegis of the IEA Solar Heating & Cooling Programme, researchers from Task 53, New Generation Solar Cooling & Heating Systems, have written a new book, titled The Solar Cooling Design Guide: Case Studies of Successful Solar Air Conditioning Design. It includes a detailed case study of two buildings containing offices and flats in Montpellier, France. The on-site 240 m² flat plate collector system powers a 35-kW absorption chiller to achieve a 70 % solar fraction in annual hot water production (see photo). Between November and March, the system continues to provide around 40 % of the heating energy to meet hot water demand.
Photo: Tecsol/Serm
 

Germany: Solar thermal loses out to other renewables

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 20, 2018
Wagner & Co2017 was the weakest year for solar thermal collector sales in more than a decade, according to the combined statistics by associations BDH and BSW-Solar. Their data reveals that only 78,000 systems were sold last year. The newly installed collector area added up to 625,000 m², down 16 % from 2016 and as much as 72 % from the boom year of 2008. It was an astonishingly poor showing, considering the strong growth in the construction industry and the high incentive amounts available in Germany.
Photo: BSW Solar / Wagner & Co
 

Indian manufacturers face strong competition from Chinese imports

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 20, 2018
Photo: Jaideep N. MalaviyaVacuum tube-based solar water heaters imported from China are posing a serious threat to the viability of domestic manufacturing in India. This was the key message from the STFI, the Solar Thermal Federation of India, at a mid-January consultation meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce. The committee had invited several stakeholders to attend the meeting to discuss the Impact of cheap Chinese consumer goods on the Indian industry. Nowadays, three of every four solar water heaters are imported from China, resulting in a loss of local employment.
Photo: Jaideep N. Malaviya
 

Thermosiphon market rebounds in Italy

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 16, 2018
Photo: Riccardo BattistiSystem suppliers and importers in Italy have reported significant growth in thermosiphon sales in 2017 thanks to the national support scheme Conto Termico 2.0. “Compared to the previous year, we more than doubled the number of thermosiphon units we sold in Italy in 2017, and most systems had a larger collector area because of the level of subsidies from Conto Termico 2.0,” said Export Sales Manager Andreas Andrianopoulos from Greek-based solar thermal manufacturer Cosmosolar. 
Photo: Riccardo Battisti

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