Argentina: Market Situation and Barrier Analysis

 Thermosiphon installations on the roof of a seminary in San Salvador de Jujuy, Argentina” Björn Nienborg, researcher at the German institute Fraunhofer ISE, has carried out a survey among solar collector manufacturers and importers in Argentina as part of his Master's study “Renewable Energy Management” at the University of Freiburg. His recently published “Solar Thermal Water Heaters in Argentina” gives a status report on the Argentine solar thermal market, as well as its manufacturers and suppliers. It is available as a detailed version in Spanish and a shorter one in English. The photo shows a 20 m2 thermosiphon installations on the roof of a seminary in San Salvador de Jujuy, Argentina.
Photo: Björn Nienborg

Nienborg has identified 72 suppliers and manufacturers of solar thermal systems in Argentina. 35 of these companies took part in the survey and returned a (partly) filled-in questionnaire. Some of the results of the survey in brief:

  • The majority of the companies (77%) are based in Greater Buenos Aires and the Central Argentina region.
  • Two-thirds of the participating companies have between one and five employees, making them “micro-enterprises”.
  • More than half of the companies (18) claim to produce collectors - a surprisingly high number according to the author. However, the figure is also supported by the fact that 14 companies have announced to offer self-constructed flat plate collectors.
  • 14 companies sell vacuum tube collectors - most of them imported. Two companies say that they assemble the imported vacuum tubes.
  • 86 % of the companies (30) have thermosiphon systems in their portfolio, 63 % pumped solar water heating systems and 57 % combi systems.

The survey results did not allow for an assessment of the total market volume of the national solar thermal market, because some important manufacturers did not participate and importers did not communicate their sales figures. Nevertheless, the author was able to analyse the share in technologies from the filled-in surveys: The estimate puts flat plate collectors first with two-thirds of the market volume in 2010; another 28 % are imported collectors and 5% are unglazed ones.

Besides the results of the survey among system suppliers, the paper also includes a chapter on the energy sector in Argentina, as well as an analysis of the ‘barriers to diffusion and recommendations for market development’. “The main barriers are the limited profitability of solar water heaters due to unfavourable policies and insufficient awareness of the potential of the technology,” Nienborg says in his abstract. Quality assurance is another issue that needs to be tackled in the future.

You find the Spanish and English version of the study attached. You can contact the author at b.nienborg@yahoo.com

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