Industrial solar heat is far from being a standard yet, but it is more widespread than you might think. The first World Map of Solar Process Heat Specialists shows 71 companies in 22 countries which reported almost 400 reference systems. Together with additional plants included in the online portal ship-plants.info, the world market for industrial process heat comprises at a minimum 525 plants with an collector or mirror area of at least 416,414 m².
Argentina has officially declared 2017 the Renewable Energy Year. A recent report published by the Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Industrial (INTI), a division of the Ministry of Industry, confirms that the national solar thermal market has been growing: An industry survey shows the solar heat segment to have doubled each year between 2012 and 2015, and another increase is expected for 2016. Meanwhile new legislation intended to promote the Use of Solar Thermal Energy of Low and Medium Temperature is still on hold, but stakeholders see it being approved over the next two months.
At the request of the Pakistani government, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has launched a project titled Sustainable Energy Initiative for Industries in Pakistan to promote the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and services in Pakistan’s industries. But despite the country’s great energy demand and huge solar potential, the study says little about solar thermal usage
The Indian government should provide the same assertive publicity for solar thermal technology as it had for solar PV because the population still needed to be made aware of the benefits of solar water heating. This was the major concern raised during the panel discussion Policy and Regulatory Framework for Solar Water Heater Market Development in India moderated by Jaideep Malaviya (third from right), Secretary General of the Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI). Five industry representatives took part in the event held during the Renewable Energy India Exhibition and Conference 2016 near New Delhi at the beginning of September (from left to right): Rigal Patel (Redsun Solar), Bhoovarahan Thirumalai (Aspiration Energy), Devinder Kaushal (Inter Solar Systems), Saurabh Bhandari (Solarmaxx) and Chandrakant Shah (Kosol Hiramrut Energies).
German Vaillant has launched a project which has stirred controversy among installers: Online platform heizungonline.vaillant.de can be used by manufacturers to directly address those end customers who wish to shop online – and send them a “price indication” for a complete heating system. Recent discussions have revolved around the question of whether this is a help to installation companies or if it interferes with their entrepreneurial freedom.
The German solar thermal market is still stuck in recession. Although incentives are higher than they have ever been, demand has not really picked up over the first five months of this year, according to the market statistics by the two associations BSW Solar and BDH. The total collector area sold until the end of May was again down by 5.3 % compared to the previous year, although vacuum tubes have been more strongly affected by the slump (-18 %) than flat plate collectors (-4 %). Installers are viewed as the bottleneck in the supply chain and an increasing number of solar thermal suppliers have run advert campaigns to try and reach end customers on their own. Solarthermalworld.org has already reported on the new end-customer sales strategies employed by Thermondo. This article describes how the campaigns of another German system supplier, Sonnenkraft, have changed over the years. The image depicts an advertisement for the campaign from 2005 (left) and one from 2015 (right).
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is a young, but globally operating intergovernmental organisation. The first general assembly was held only five years ago in April 2011, after a three-year preparation period. Since its founding, IRENA has welcomed 149 member states (see the map), and accession negotiations have been underway for another 27. Since 2014, the organisation has passed a biennial work programme, with the current one covering 2016-2017 (see the attached document). The projected budget for these two years is USD 89.5 million, split among six thematic areas and two administrative ones.
During COP21 in Paris last December, 1,000 mayors and local leaders pledged themselves to a 100 % renewable future of their municipalities by 2050. The final declaration from 4 December 2015 reads (see the attached document): “We support ambitious long-term climate goals such as a transition to 100 % renewable energy in our communities, or an 80 % greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2050.” This crucial political statement gives new impetus to the international research task Solar Energy in Urban Planning (Task 51), which is part of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme. The main objective of the task headed by Maria Wall, Swedish professor at the Energy and Building Design department of Lund University, is to provide urban planners, authorities and architects with the means of designing urban areas that will enable the integration of active and passive solar energy solutions which can cover a large share of the energy demand. The researchers organised two workshops in Stockholm in March to discuss with representatives from public bodies how to deal with the challenges of interdisciplinary planning processes when trying to retain the aesthetic quality of buildings of cultural and historic significance.
Illustration: Ida Brogren, courtesy of Borås Municipality
As part of EU project Fair RHC Options and Trade (FROnT), customers from the residential, non-residential and industrial sector were asked about the key points factoring into their decision on a heating or cooling system. In all sectors, solar thermal was the most widely known renewable heat technology. Among the around two-thirds of the interview partners who knew about renewable heating and cooling technologies, 96 % of the residential, 89% of non-residential and 79 % of industrial customers were aware of the opportunities of solar thermal energy. “That was a confirming result for us,” Stefano Lambertucci, Policy Officer at the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF), said. Awareness of solar cooling was significantly lower, especially in the industrial sector, where biomass and geothermal heat pumps received high scores.
The solar heating and cooling (SHC) sector needs to increase visibility on social media channels. This was the shared belief of the three major SHC institutions – the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF), the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (IEA SHC) and solarthermalworld.org – which met at the beginning of 2016 to discuss relevant strategies. The group saw Twitter as an important communication channel among policy makers, lobbyists and industry associations – a tool which is also used by a growing number of journalists worldwide for their research. The institutions decided to campaign for harmonised hashtags regarding content related to solar heating and cooling on Twitter, in order to increase visibility and improve the search functionality.