Though the availability of areas for large solar district heating plants remains a major point of contention, there are ways to expand the market. They include detailed local heat plans, the use of unconventional, e.g., polluted or contaminated, areas, and awareness raising among public and private stakeholders.
In February, Alcalá Ecoenergías signed a deal to construct a district heating system powered by solar and biomass in Alcalá de Henares, a city in Spain. The agreement between the local company and the municipal government will lead to one of the country’s first-ever large-scale solar district heating systems, intended to provide 12,000 homes with renewable heat.
The 5th International Solar District Heating Conference, which took place in Graz, Austria, in mid-April, brought together 350 experts from 33 countries.
Active and passive solar systems integrated into building envelopes are key to combatting climate change. However, there are many barriers which confine current solutions to the demonstration stage and prevent them from going mainstream.
The Russian collector industry is growing steadily, despite a lack of state support and the impact of the financial crisis.
Sorption chillers may still be a niche market, but Europe’s manufacturers reported rising demand for solar thermal cooling in Italy, Spain and the Middle East in 2017.
In early 2018, two German organisations agreed on a joint membership model to promote solar thermal air conditioning and cooling, a niche market in the country.
2017 was a record year for systems providing solar heat for industrial processes, since at least 110 large ones adding up to 192,580 m² were put into operation.
Absolicon, a Swedish supplier of concentrating solar thermal technology, has recently delivered its first production line to a Chinese company. The equipment to manufacture parabolic trough collectors, which the Swedish business developed in-house, arrived in China in mid-April.
The UN Refugee Agency has begun ordering solar water heaters to improve the sanitary conditions in Ugandan refugee camps.