Uniclima, the French union for the heating, cooling and ventilation industry, presented its latest take on the French solar thermal market in 2012 at a press conference in Paris on 18 October. Compared to the previous year, the market remained, all in all, stable by the end of August 2012. Each type of solar thermal technology, however, took a very different path throughout the year. The Uniclima study that was carried out among the union’s members shows that the collector area installed for domestic hot water in residential buildings (“CESI” in French) decreased by 14 % over the first eight months of 2012. Combi systems, which deliver energy for hot water and space heating (“SSC” in French), again declined this year (-21 %). Only the sector of solar hot water for multi-family houses (“ESC collective” in French) showed an increase of 20 % compared to 2011 (find a summary of the study attached to this news piece).
Large-scale solar thermal systems for multi-family buildings are a rather dynamic field. At the end of each of the last three years, this market segment had grown by another 20%. The sector is pushed mainly by new housing projects, which have to fulfil the new “BBC 2012” building code requirements for energy-efficient buildings this year. According to the Uniclima study, the “BBC” programme will continue to be a driver of solar thermal systems also in 2012.
The first half of this year was marked by an important milestone in the evolution of the French solar thermal market: For the first time, collective systems - including multi-family houses and commercial projects - have reached the level of the decreasing residential market. There is only one area in the latter segment which shows an upward trend: compact solar systems, which include a tight-fit boiler usually associated with a domestic solar hot water system. This technology is particularly widespread in newly built houses.
The authors estimate that the solar thermal market will at best remain stagnant until the end of 2012, as the decline in the residential sector has offset any increase in the collective market segment. Without significantly new and dynamic solar thermal applications to kick-start sales, the authors of the study expect further difficulties in 2013. The building sector has still not recovered, which means efficient building regulations do not have a strong impact on the solar thermal market.
Uniclima publishes market analyses about the renewable energy sector in regular intervals. The sub-organisation responsible for collecting the sales figures of the union’s members is the Strategic Committee for Renewable Energies, EnR. It is composed of 22 industry companies and is headed by Valérie Laplagne. Uniclima estimates that their organisation represents about 75% of the French solar thermal and 50% of the wood boiler market. The members in both sectors together had a turnover of EUR 85 million in 2011 and employed 4,500 people. Among the Uniclima members are two major boiler manufacturers which also run solar thermal factories in France: Viessmann in Faulquemont and Vaillant in Nantes.
This article is a short version of a text published in French magazine Plein Soleil (www.plein-soleil.info) and written by Editor Jean-Louis Busquet.