After running for 28 months, the IEE So-Pro project to develop and promote solar process heat ended in September 2011. Project Leader Christiane Egger was able to present a successful programme at the Estec 2011 in Marseilles: More than 90 energy screenings in various industrial companies, about 160 persons trained, 990 participants of round-table events and conferences, 21 publications in 5 languages, 7 pilot projects in operation and about 10 in the pipeline. For the complete interview with Christiane Egger, click here.
“The objective of the project was to kick-start the solar process heat markets across six European re-gions: in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovenia and Spain,” explains Christiane Egger, Deputy Managing Director of the O. Oe. Energiesparverband, the energy agency of Upper Austria. “During the project, we were able to initiate market development in all participating regions. The project was met with high interest in the European solar thermal community and more than 20 companies in the project regions now offer products and services dedicated to solar process heat.”
According to Egger, there is an enormous potential for solar thermal systems in the industrial sector, because about 30% of the total industrial heat demand is at temperature levels below 100°C – a demand which could be met by commercially available solar thermal collectors. Some of the major industrial heat processes include: hot water for washing or cleaning, heating the make-up water for steam networks, bath or vessel heating, and convective drying with hot air (see the figure below).
Of the 90 industrial companies which took part in the energy screenings, 35% use vessel or bath heating in their manufacturing process and 26% clean or wash with hot water.
However, Christiane Egger also mentioned that - with only a few hundred installations - the market in Europe and globally is still very much in its infancy. Main barriers to market growth are the often very low prices for industrial consumption of fossil fuels, the lower acceptance of longer payback periods in the industrial sector and the use of industrial waste heat, which is often more economical.
In addition, Christiane Egger sees a lack of information across the value chain. “Solar companies often lack an understanding of the complexity of industrial processes and system integration,” explains Egger. “On the other hand, specialists in industrial energy systems usually know very little about solar thermal technologies and the management in industrial companies is not aware of the possibility of using solar thermal. There is a lack of standardised solutions and communication among these groups.”
The aim of the So-Pro project was to combine industrial process know-how with solar thermal and regional market development by raising awareness and disseminating information about solar thermal, as well as identifying and supporting the first pilot projects. The project resulted in a number of checklists and planning guidelines in English, German, Spanish, Czech and Slovene. More than 160 persons were trained in workshops, and close to 1,000 participants joined So-Pro round-table discussions and conferences. Seven pilot projects have already been in operation and more than 10 are in the planning stage.
Among the 7 pilot project partners is Montesano, a Spanish producer of meat products, which had 252 m² of collector area installed for its washing process. Another example is Asamer from Upper Austria, which runs a concrete plant and now uses 167 m² of solar collectors for washing and heating. Hustert Galvanik, Germany, which specialises in surface treatment and electroplating, heats its industrial baths with a collector area of 221 m².
And what comes after So-Pro? “An informal network, Solar Process Heat Europe, will go on to support the development in the solar process heat market,” says Christiane Egger. “It is important to continue identifying projects and applications which are economically feasible. And we have to improve the framework conditions. We need special funding programmes for solar process heat to support a sus-tainable market development.”
This text was written by Stephanie Banse, a German journalist specialised in solar thermal tech-nology. (email@example.com)
Contact: Christiane Egger firstname.lastname@example.org
Checklists and planning guidelines in German, English, Spain, Czech and Slovene can be downloaded at www.solar-process-heat.eu
Interview with Christiane Egger at Estec 2011