The German solar thermal industry rides roller coaster. After a 40 % decrease in 2007 and a 120 % increase in 2008, the outlook for this year still remains foggy. Can we again reach the 2008 market volume of 2.1 million m2? The sector says we can! This is one of the results of a survey among manufacturers, wholesalers and importers, conducted by the German magazine Solarthemen.
The German solar thermal market more than doubled in 2008. According to the solar industry association BSW-Solar and the heating industry association BDH; 2.1 million m2 of new collector area (1.5 GWth) were installed on German roofs last year (940,000 m2 = 658 MWth in 2007). This proves to be a great success after the downswing in 2007, when the German solar thermal market experienced a 40 % decrease in collector area installations.
Laser welding machine for absorber sheets: A patent in the United States could slowdown the development of this technology.
Photo: Sunlaser Consulting
Solar cooling is a promising new field of application for solar thermal technology. A new version of the simulation software Polysun will be published in April. It will not only be able to design solar thermal systems but also solar powered cooling plants that work with compression coolers or fan coils. A version that also contains a simulation model for absorption chillers is scheduled for the summer months. Polysun is offered in Chinese, Czech, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
90 % of South Africa’s electricity is generated by coal-fired power stations. The fourth quarter of 2007, however, started with massive power cuts as electricity supply fell behind demand. Eskom, the largest electricity supplier in Africa, the South African Government and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), began to implement alternative and renewable energy programmes a year later. Among these is a rebate programme for solar water heaters.
Surviving in harsh climate: This vacuum tube collector system has heated the Brandfield House at the Rothera research station in the Antartic since February 2008.
Photo: British Antarctic Survey
U.S. President Obama's signature on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act effectively removed the existing US$2,000 cap for the tax rebate of residential solar thermal systems. Whoever buys a new solar thermal system in 2009 can deduct 30 % of the investment costs from his or her income tax – giving a significant advantage to applications for space heating or air conditioning.
Valuable business contacts: Robert Welling with his company Tisun was the only solar thermal manufacturer from Europe at the fair in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in the middle of January.
The new subsidy programme of the government of Mauritius has been a successful one. More than 4,000 solar water heaters have received a subsidy of 10,000 Mauritius Rupee (MUR), approximately € 279, by the Development Bank of Mauritius (DBM) since August 2008. The target for the first year of the programme is to install around 20,000 systems in households.
“Now, the solar water heating market is booming,” Raj Appalaswamy, sales coordinator of Kaylor Rotomoulders, a manufacturer of solar water heaters, affirms.
The 38 Abengoa parabolic trough collectors on the roof of the piano maker Steinway & Sons in Island City, New York, will produce steam at 200 °C from spring on.