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Finance and Incentives

ESCO Project Funding: Search for Attractive Case Studies to Fill Project Pipeline

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on July 5, 2016
Energy Contracting FundSolar heating and cooling has not been bankable yet despite various systems confirming expected performance and O&M costs. Project budgets are usually too small and the technology suppliers do not pass the stringent requirements of creditworthiness, which leaves the financial provider with a high-risk scenario. Accordingly, Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) have faced severe financing issues, which slow down the expansion of their business. It is good news to them that two recently launched projects also focus on facilitating the creation of an investment fund for solar thermal ESCO projects: First, there is the Feasibility Study - Energy Contracting Fund, which is jointly coordinated by the German Investment and Development Corporation Bank (DEG) and German SHC turnkey provider Industrial Solar; the second project, TrustEE – enhancing investment conditions for industrial energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, is from the EU and has been coordinated by Austrian institute AEE INTEC.
 

India: 40 % Solar Hot Water Share in Ladakh Region

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on June 29, 2016
LREDA ceremonyIt’s a delight to gaze at the glittering solar panels on virtually every roof in the Ladakh region in the northern Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir. The Himalayan territory enjoys more than 320 clear, sunny days each year and has undoubtedly become India’s leader in solar energy, as 40 % of its population is now using solar water heaters in their homes, up from almost zero per cent back in 2011. The region owes its success largely to the tireless work of the Ladakh Renewable Energy Development Agency (LREDA), which was the only renewable energy agency among the 102 institutions and companies presented with an award by the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy during an April 2016 ceremony. The photo shows energy minister Piyush Goyal (right) presenting the award to Jigmet Takpa, Director of the LREDA.
Photo: LREDA
 

USA: First-Hand Information on US SHC Market

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on June 23, 2016
Conference LogosThe American Solar Heating & Cooling Alliance will offer sector-related conferences at both of its major upcoming events in the USA: Intersolar in San Francisco on 12 July and Solar Power International in Las Vegas on 12 September. The SHC Alliance, a division of the Solar Energy Industries Association, is organising and sponsoring these events to assess the tremendous impact solar thermal could have on energy and national gas consumption across the country. There is still little demand for solar thermal technologies and the industry will need to invest considerable effort in communicating their advantages. Gross additions in 2015 for glazed collectors have been estimated at 170,000 m² – a 7 % drop compared to the previous year. Unglazed collectors increased 1 % last year, bringing the total up to 846,000 m². These US market figures were provided by Les Nelson, a member of the SHC Council.
 

Australia: Good Funding for Solar Process Heat, but Little Trust by Industry

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on June 22, 2016
IRR rates for solar thermal in AustraliaAustralia’s energy policy has been in the international press mostly for its shift back toward coal under the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. However, Jeremy Osborne, Director of Energy Analysis & Engineering, said in an interview with solarthermalworld.org that Australia did have a “supportive government despite all the news”.  Since July 2015, renewables for industrial processes has been one of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) investment priorities, which includes solar process heat. ARENA also published the report Renewable Energy Options for Australian Industrial Gas Users in September 2015, emphasising that lower-temperature process heat systems at around 100 °C are most “prospective at present” (see the attached document). Positive Internal Rates of Return (IRR) are achieved with gas prices above Australian Dollar (AUD) 5 per gigajoules (GJ). According to the report, the wholesale price for gas was between 6 and 8 AUD/GJ in 2014 and is expected to rise to between 9 and 12 AUD/GJ before the end of the decade. 
Chart: ARENA
 

Denmark: Solar Concentrating Systems to Offer Wide Array of Uses

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on June 20, 2016
Aalborg Tars InaugurationAt present, the Danish turnkey supplier of concentrating solar systems, Aalborg CSP, has two more large projects under construction. Both installations – one for Danish district heating company Brønderslev Forsyning and one for Australian vegetables producer Sundrop Farms – cover electricity and heat demand at their sites. Yet another first-of-its-kind project was inaugurated in August 2015 in the Danish village of Tårs (see photo), 30 km north of Aalborg. It entailed 4,039 m² of parabolic trough collectors and a preheating flat plate collector field of 5,972 m². Simulations have pointed to a 31 % coverage of annual heat demand even without seasonal storage, since overheating in summer can be avoided by moving the parabolic trough collectors out of focus. Aalborg CSP is an experienced planner of steam and boiler systems and has been offering concentrating solar solutions since 2007. 
Photo: Tårs
 

Austria: Decision on Operating Company for Big Solar Graz Expected Soon

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on June 17, 2016
Gleisdorf Solar 2016“Large-scale solar thermal systems in the GW range – an insignificant niche market or the future for solar thermal?” was the official title of a panel discussion at the Gleisdorf Solar conference in Austria in early May. The most important question was: What will be next for the planned 350 MWth solar district heating system called Big Solar in the Austrian city of Graz? “The challenge was to adapt the Danish district heating solutions to Austrian conditions,” emphasised the project’s initiator, Christian Holter (right), Managing Director of S.O.L.I.D. Meanwhile, Christian Stadler (left), Managing Director of one of Arcon-Sunmark’s subsidiaries, Arcon-Sunmark Germany & Austria, represented the company that has stated his own interest in realising Big Solar.
Photo: AEE INTEC
 

Tunisia: Good Hotel and Hospital Investment Opportunities

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on June 8, 2016
Tunisia StudyA great deal of sunlight, large investment grants and subsidised energy prices: These are the factors determining the profitability of big solar thermal systems in Tunisia, according to the authors of the study Opportunities for solar thermal systems in the tertiary and industrial sectors in Tunisia, a publication by the German Agency for International Cooperation, GIZ, (see attached document in English, the French version is under consultation). Under certain circumstances, a solar thermal system can achieve a double-digit Internal Rate of Return (IRR), for example, if it is installed at LPG-dependent hotels or hospitals on the Tunisian island of Djerba. When solar replaces natural gas in commercial buildings in Tunisia’s capital, Tunis, the IRR is still significantly higher than the estimated 4.3 % inflation per year. However, there are difficulties with the economic feasibility of solar process heat applications because not even top reference cases have fulfilled investor expectations. The authors emphasise that the importance Tunisian businesses currently place on payback periods for investing may lead them to overlook valuable projects.
Figure: GIZ study
 

IEA SHC: Levelised Cost of Heat and the Calculations behind It

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on May 28, 2016
The main objective of IEA SHC Task 52, Solar Thermal in Energy Supply Systems in Urban Environments, is to call attention to both the technical and economic aspects of solar heating and cooling usage in densely populated urban areas. Urban planners and commercial clients want to know the costs compared to the energy output generated by various solar heating technologies. A method to benchmark different solar heat production systems is Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE). This method is described by the IEA as the “average price that would have to be paid by consumers to repay exactly the investor/operator for the capital, operation and maintenance and fuel expenses, with a rate of return equal to the discount rate”. The chart shows the LCOE for different applications and system sizes in northern / central European climates, taken from the most current Task 52 study Technology and Demonstrators (for further details see table below). The author of the study, Franz Mauthner from Austrian research institute AEE INTEC, contributed to this article, which elaborates on the method and the calculations behind it. 
Chart: Task 52 / Technology and Demonstrators study
 

Italy: First-Year District Heating Yield Better than Expected

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on May 20, 2016
Output VareseThe first and so far unique solar district heating plant in Italy completed its first year in operation in mid-May this year. According to metering by the operator of the 990 m² collector field, utility Varese Risorse, output was significantly higher than expected. The chart shows the total output measured over almost 12 months: It was 13 % higher than the target figure. The solar district heating plant was developed and installed by a newly founded Italian company, SDH Energy, which also guaranteed the solar yield (red line).
Chart: Varese Risorse/SDH Energy
 

Armenia: Green Leasing Programme to Fund Solar Water Heaters at Hotels

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on May 16, 2016
Tufenkian Hotel 1Armenia, a small country in South Caucasus, is home to an innovative financing scheme for solar thermal systems and other energy efficiency measures. In 2014, Armenian ACBA Leasing launched the Green Leasing programme for small and medium enterprises from any industry. According to an article published on 24 March 2016 on Armenian news website news.am, Green Leasing had already helped fund several solar thermal systems for different customers, such as seven hotels, four catering businesses and more than 20 service companies. One of the most well-known customers was the Tufenkian Hotel in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital: The roof installation of 1,140 vacuum tubes was done in December last year (see photo). 
Photo: Shtigen
 

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