Bulgaria: New Solar Thermal Market Data Published

It is crucial for stakeholders – no matter in which markets they operate – to obtain accurate statistical data before making investment decisions. Sometimes, however, this is not an easy task; an example of how difficult it is to rely on published statistics is the Bulgarian market for solar thermal energy. The June 2014 market report by the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) showed the newly installed collector area in Bulgaria in 2013 to add up to 5,600 m². But the country’s leading flat plate collector manufacturer, NES New Energy Systems, located in the town of Shumen in northeast Bulgaria, reported an annual production volume of 20,000 m² for 2013 and sales of 12,000 m² during the same year. This means that the NES collectors alone (assuming that they were installed) would double the market volume which was published in the ESTIF report. In an attempt to find an explanation for the diverging figures, solarthermalworld.org contacted the available sources.
 
ESTIF said in its market report that it had received the market data from the Bulgarian Association of Producers of Ecological Energy (APEE) and the APEE told solarthermalworld.org in October to have used statistical data from the Bulgarian National Statistical Institute (NSI). But actually, the NSI had just published the 2013 solar thermal statistics at the beginning of December 2014. “I would like to apologise for the mistake – the information that we sent to ESTIF was based on our own calculations and we did not use figures from the National Statistical Institute. We do not know the NSI sources. Our calculations are based on information provided by the installers,” Mihail Dimitrov, Chairman of APEE, explained meanwhile.
 

Year

Cumulated collector area at year’s end [m²] Source: NSI

Newly installed collector area [m²]
Source: NSI

Increase in newly installed collector area

2010

194,000

 

 

2011

230,000

36,000

  18 %

2012

256,000

26,000

  11 %

2013

309,000

53,000

104 %

Annual solar thermal collector statistics from the Bulgarian National Statistical Institute (NSI)
 
According to data the NSI sent per journalistic request, the newly installed solar collector area in 2013 was 53,000 m², almost ten times as much as the figure published by ESTIF. Ljubomir Bladski, Press Officer at the NSI, confirmed that each manufacturer and solar thermal system provider is required to disclose the produced or imported collector area to the NSI. “We provide the relevant form online,” Bladski explained. He could not state any reasons for the steep increase in sold collector area across the country. Bladski confirmed that most collectors are imported, but he could not say by how many per cent they surpass locally produced quantities.
 
Collector area rising constantly
One of the big foreign players on the Bulgarian market is Bosch Thermotechnik Bulgaria. When asked by solarthermalworld.org, the company didn´t disclose any information on how many solar thermal systems it had sold or how much collector area it had installed, but Iordan Dotchev, Head of the Bulgarian sales office, had the following to say about the market in the Balkan country: “Bulgaria is a young market with significant potential for solar thermal applications. This is why over the last years, the sales of solar thermal collectors have been constantly on the rise.”
 
Dotchev sees the most potential for solar thermal in water heating, since a typical solar system could cover up to 80 % of the annual hot water demand of an individual household. “We also have solutions on the market that can ensure additional savings during wintertime when heating the house. This is true for homes with low-temperature heating systems and usually requires much bigger efforts during installation,” Dotchev says. Bosch Thermotechnik Bulgaria is not only installing systems in family homes, but also at public and commercial buildings, for example, hotels. As solarthermalworld.org reported in November 2013, the company set up a solar thermal installation on the roof of the Hilton hotel in Sofia.
 
More information
European Solar Thermal Industry Federation: www.estif.org
Association of Producers of Ecological Energy: www.apee.bg
Bulgarian National Statistical Institute: www.nsi.bg
NES New Energy Systems: www.sunsystem.bg/de/
Bosch Thermotechnik Bulgaria: www.bosch.bg
 
Frank Stier is a Sofia-based freelance journalist working for print and online media, as well as news agencies: www.socb.de 
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