Solar District Heating (SDH) is making its first step into the market. According to the website of IEE project “SDHtake-off - Solar District Heating in Europe”, experts estimate a long-term potential for solar district heat of 5% and an annual solar heat production of roughly 30 TWhth. From 16 to 17 March 2011, the initiators of the SDHtake-off will hold a Workshop and Plant Visit Tour on solar district heating. The event will take place in Graz, Austria.
The workshop’s objective is to facilitate the development of new solar district heating plants in towns and villages, with a particular focus on Southern and Eastern European ‘newcomer countries’. Various feasibility studies have shown a great potential for this technology in countries such as France, Italy and Poland. During the plant visit tour in Styria, Austria, operators will present already set-up solar district heating plants which take on different grid integration approaches.
The workshop represents an international platform for exchanging know-how between interested decision-makers and experts from heat suppliers, local utilities and local communities, which all face the challenge of making their district heating grids more sustainable.
Several large solar district heating grids in operation make Graz the perfect location to hold a workshop on the subject. One example is the skating hall next to the UPC Arena, with a collector area of 1,407 m².
The SDHtake-off project was launched in Stuttgart, Germany, in summer 2009. Since then, a team of 18 experts from twelve different institutions and associations have developed and introduced a new approach and new instruments to begin a Europe-wide market introduction of solar district heating. The EU project SDHtake-off is coordinated by the German Steinbeis Research Institute for Solar and Sustainable Thermal Energy Systems, Solites (see http://www.solarthermalworld.org/node/879).
"The aim of SDHtake-off project is to combine the areas of solar thermal and district heating. So far, projects in this field have mainly been for demonstration purposes alone,” explains Thomas Pauschinger, Project Coordinator at Solites. “A significant success of our project is that we were able to bring together stakeholders of the district heating sector and the solar thermal industry in the participating countries, namely Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Italy.”
According to Pauschinger, the framework conditions in Denmark are favourable and the collaboration has already been going well. The total installed capacity of Danish plants is currently at 62 MWth (88,600 m2). Plans for new facilities with a capacity of around 170 MWth (242,900 m2) are already in preparation. District heat suppliers in Germany, in contrast, still mainly use combined heat and power (CHP). Here, a new working group was formed together with the German Heat and Power Association (AGFW), which is now examining how solar thermal energy fits into the existing district heating concepts. Italy has made its first step, too: Currently, there are two feasibility studies in progress.
This text was written by Stephanie Banse, a German journalist specialised on solar thermal technology. (firstname.lastname@example.org)