Chilean company THC is satisfied with the sales of its new collector type called Ecopanel. “We have installed around 2,500 m2 of Ecopanels over the last seven months, and have contracts for 1,500 m2 more,” Melchor Mittersteiner says. The Vice President of THC, a manufacturer of components for drinking water systems, believes the subsidies to be responsible for the strong growth of the market.
“The solar collector market in Chile is growing very fast. This development is a result of the new subsidy scheme which became law seven months ago,” explains Mittersteiner. The scheme allows building companies to deduct up to 100 % of the total costs of a solar collector, including installation, from their tax payments (see database of incentive programmes). The amount that can be deducted depends on the value of the house: The less expensive the home was, the higher the deduction rate. According to Mittersteiner, there are no official figures as to Chile's precise market volume, but he estimates that in 2012, it will even increase to a newly installed collector area of 30,000 m2.
THC had been selling polypropylene piping to the construction sector for several years before it launched its glazed collector panel under the name of Ecopanel in October 2010. The product resulted out of a research cooperation with solar engineering and installation company Calder Solar, which is located in Santiago as well. Ecopanel collectors consists of a polypropylene absorber, a polycarbonate cover, and an aluminium frame. The collector comes with a stainless steel tank purchased from another manufacturer, and an instant gas boiler for cloudy days.