After experiencing high growth in 2008, Canada’s solar thermal industry had to cope with mixed results in 2009. The Survey of Active Solar Thermal Collectors, Industry and Markets in Canada (2009), conducted by Natural Resources Canada in the period from December 2009 to March 2010, shows that only the manufacturers of air collectors were able to increase their sold collector area. The chart illustrates how domestic solar collector sales in Canada have developed over the past 10 years.
Source: Natural Resources Canada
According to the survey, total domestic collector sales decreased from 139,159m² in 2008 to 129,418m² in 2009 (-7%). The manufacturers of glazed, liquid-based collectors recorded the biggest downturn, from 14,256 m² to 10,269 m² (-28 %). The sales of unglazed, liquid-based collectors (pool heating) dropped by 18 %.
In contrast, the manufacturers of air collectors - and here, primarily the unglazed sector - could be deeply content with a 31% growth. Their sold collector area increased from 35,326 m² in 2008 to 46,123 m² in 2009. “Unglazed solar air is the second most cost-effective technology after unglazed liquid collectors and has been growing steadily over the past decade,” Reda Djebbar, Solar Energy Analyst at Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and responsible for the survey, explains. You can download the market survey).
When asked for the reasons behind the decline in the other two application sectors, Djebbar answered: “The decrease might have been due to the lesser number of companies who took the time to fill in the survey, which went down from 32 respondents in 2008 to 29 respondents in 2009. Also, the worldwide financial crisis might have played a role here.”
“In North America in 2010, the overall trend is slightly downward”, Florin Plavosin, Director of Applications Engineering at Canadian collector manufacturer Enerworks, confirmed in an international market survey by German agency solrico. “When the stimulus package money in the US is all used up, we expect that the trend may go sharper downward before levelling in 2011”.
The export figures from the NRCan study show the same picture: According to Djebbar the total exported collector area decreased by 10 % to 41,881 m² in 2009, and is now valued at CAD 4.6 million (down 19% from CAD 5.7 million in 2008). Approximately 94 % of the revenue comes from exports to the US, the marginal remainder goes to Europe, as well as Central and South America. Sales to Europe fell particularly steeply, from CAD 630,000 to CAD 180,000.
This text was written by Stephanie Banse, a German journalist specialised on solar thermal technology. (firstname.lastname@example.org)