Last year, the Israeli market saw a significant increase in newly installed glazed collector area, showing a total of 428,750 m² or a 9 % increase compared to the previous year. Eli Shilton, Managing Director of Israeli solar thermal system supplier Elsol, believes that a hail storm last winter was responsible for the greater demand for system replacement. “Since local collectors have standard glass covers, the hail storm broke a lot of the glass,” Shilton explained and added: “People are not worried about it, as the systems were covered by insurance and most owners will be reimbursed for all of the damage caused.” Thirty years of experience have made Eli Shilton a well-recognised expert in the Israeli solar thermal industry. The photos show centralised solar thermal systems on new multi-family buildings in Israel.
This time, Israel’s experts are in agreement on the annual market figures. Dr Asher Vaturi, head of the environmental studies programme at Max Stern Yezreel Valley College and a representative from the Interdisciplinary Center for Technology Analysis & Forecasting (ICTAF) of Tel Aviv University, concurs with Shilton regarding 2014 and 2015 market volumes. In previous years, official market statistics did not necessarily match the industry estimates of the total collector area sold.
The annual Israeli market statistics are based on two different segments. More than 80 % of the annually sold collector area is replacing installations which are ten to fifteen years old. The rest is found in newbuilds, which depend very much on the dynamism of the construction industry. Both experts estimated that around 180,000 solar thermal systems were replaced in 2015, plus 25,000 units which were planned to be installed in newbuilds, most of them in multi-family buildings. “Most of the newbuilds’ centralised hot water systems had on average 2.75 m² of collector area per housing unit, whereas replacement systems generally have a 150-litre thermosiphon tank and 2 m² of collector area each,” Shilton explained. This added up to a market volume of 428,750 m², of which 360,000 m² were for replacement purposes and 68,750 m² were installed in newbuilds.
Israel second to Cyprus in terms of largest per-head capacity in operation
Replacement systems account for 84 % of the collector area sold in 2015 and for 83 % in 2014. Israel is one of the largest retrofitting markets worldwide because of a solar building obligation which has been in place since 1980 and because of a large specific cumulated solar thermal capacity in operation (0.57 m² per inhabitant at the end of 2014). The only country with a larger per-head capacity in operation is the European island of Cyprus.
The Israeli market is overwhelmingly dominated by domestically manufactured flat plate collectors. “Imported vacuum tube collectors play a minor role and do not even reach 1,000 m² per year,” Shilton said. The market volume for unglazed collectors hovered between 1,000 and 3,000 over the past years, according to the estimates by the two experts.
Shilton expects a growing market in 2016 because of a rise in new construction. “In 2016/2017, there will be about 50,000 to 60,000 new housing units, whereas 2015 saw the construction of around 40,000 units,” Elsol’s managing director explained. Since September 2012, the solar building code has required owners of buildings taller than 27 metres to install solar water heaters for the first seven floors under the roof. Previously, the solar building code was strictly limited to residential buildings with a maximum height of 27 m, which is about 8 to 9 stories.
Institutions and companies mentioned in the article:
Interdisciplinary Center for Technology Analysis & Forecasting (ICTAF): http://ictaf.tau.ac.il/index.asp?lang=eng
The Max Stern Yezreel Valley College: http://www.yvc.ac.il/en/