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Finance and Incentives

Portugal: Incentive Scheme Fails While Sales Take Another Dive

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on May 3, 2016
The latest Portuguese incentive scheme for solar thermal energy proved to be a major failure: Launched by the national Energy Efficiency Fund (EEF) in May 2015, the call to support the restoration of solar thermal systems installed before 2005 received only four applications in the end. Additionally, 2015 market performance was still far from desirable, and the downward trend in sales continues. APISOLAR’s figures show a newly installed area of 46,134 m² (32 MWth), a 9 % decrease compared to the previous year.
 

IEA SHC: Industry Workshop in Spain Shows Solar Cooling’s Global Opportunities

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on April 30, 2016
Task 43 WorkshopThe latest R&D developments in solar cooling presented during a workshop in Madrid, Spain, on 11 April sparked great interest among the attendees from the international air conditioning industry. Held at the headquarters of the Spanish Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving, IDEA, the event brought together representatives from companies, such as Baxi Roca, Carrier, Fujitsu, Kaysun and Panasonic, as well as researchers from Task 53, New Generation Solar Cooling and Heating Systems, of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme. The presentations showcased innovative solutions driven by solar heat or solar power. The experts agreed that solar cooling will be a market for both solar thermal and solar PV solutions over the coming years and will capture new territory outside Europe, such as in the Middle East or China. A current study on the Arab region concluded: PV cooling technologies are more economical than grid-driven electric chillers at cooling loads of 100 kWc, whereas solar thermal cooling should be used for 1 MWc cooling.
Photo: IDEA
 

India: Union Budget for 2016/2017 Has New Frame Conditions – For Better or Worse

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on April 4, 2016
Wheels IndiaThe Union Budget in India for 2016-17 – announced by the Finance Minister on 29 February 2016 – includes good and bad news for the solar thermal industry. On a positive note: The government has again increased the coal tax from Indian Rupee (INR) 200 to 400 per ton, after already doubling it in Finance Bill 2014-2015. The additional tax revenues will be used to support renewable energy technologies. The overall financial support for renewable energies will increase to INR 50.6 billion (EUR 725 million) during financial year 2016-17. Additionally, the customs duty on solar-tempered glass and solar glass was raised to 5 % besides a Special Additional Duty of 4 % to strengthen domestic manufacturing. On the downside, there is the increase of basic customs duty from 7.5 to 10 % under Harmonised System (HS) code 84191920. 
Photo: Wheels India
 

Bulgaria: Prisoners Make Solar Water Heaters in Sofia

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 29, 2016
Bulgaria prison productionWhen it comes to renewable energies policy, Bulgaria is certainly not the most progressive country in Europe. So what GE Prisons Production (GE PP) did was an even more notable endeavour: The government-owned company established a so-called Green Plant on the premises of the Sofia Central Prison to manufacture solar water heaters. “I believe that the utilisation of solar energy is the future,” Yavor Dimitrov, Production Manager at GE PP said. “With many sunny days, climatic conditions in Bulgaria are favourable for this type of energy, which is why we decided to launch a production unit for solar thermal energy systems.” Before the solar business, GE PP had already been operating various production plants for window frames, furniture and clothing across the country. The photo shows a factory in Sofia for the manufacture of heat transfer coils, including two of the workers employed there.
Photo: GE PP 

USA: SHC Alliance Board to Represent all Technologies

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 11, 2016
Ed MurrayThe Solar Heating and Cooling Alliance within the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has had an extended board since February 2016. Five industry representatives declared their candidacy and were subsequently elected: Bill Guiney from Artic Solar, Bob Leckinger from FAFCO, Les Nelson from IAPMO and Victoria Hollick from Conserval will join Mick Humphreys from Apricus until the end of this year. “We need to have representatives across all technologies of SHC,” Ed Murray explains the decision to extend the board (see photo on the left). Murray has been chair of the SHC Alliance since November 2015 as well as CEO and President of California-based system supplier Aztec Solar. His vice chair is Adam Chrisman, Vice President of Manufacturing & Engineering at SunEarth. The outreach officer/treasurer is Eileen Prado, Executive Director of the Solar Rating & Certification Corporation.

Great Britain: Solar thermal proposed to exit the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 8, 2016
The previously reported rumours of significant changes for solar thermal support in the UK have now been confirmed by the government in a consultation proposal on 3 March. Already we knew the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in Northern Ireland is suspended to all new renewable technologies. We now also know for new solar thermal systems in the rest of the UK that RHI support is proposed to be removed in 2017. This is for both RHI schemes domestic and non-domestic. The details have been released under the consultation document ‘The Renewable Heat Incentive: A reformed and refocused scheme’ (see attached pdf). The industry can comment to this consultation before the 27th April 2016. Already on the same day the Solar Trade Association (STA) published a protest note titled: British manufacturers and social housing providers join call for urgent rethink.

Chile: New Tax Credits – Better Late than Never

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 2, 2016
BritecTwo years after the end of the tax credit scheme that was part of law 20.365, the Chilean parliament approved an extension of the support programme for solar thermal systems. Although it is good news for domestic solar system suppliers and installers, the approval process for the new incentive took one year longer than expected and many local companies are in critical condition after a prolonged downturn in the industry’s economic activity.
Photo: Britec

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. 

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