The solar thermal market in Turkey is shrinking. The produced collector area has decreased by an average of 9 % each year since reaching its peak in 2004 with almost 1.5 million m2. Local manufacturers only produced 1 million m2 last year, according to the statistics of Gunder, the Turkish division of the International Solar Energy Society (see chart below). The association is estimating an additional import rate of 3 to 5 %.
This chart shows the total number of collectors that Turkish manufacturers produced each year – 8 to 10 % of them were exported, according to Gunder, the Turkish division of the International Solar Energy Society. The displayed figures do not contain the number of imported collectors (3 to 5 %). Source: Gunder
According to the president of Gunder, Necdet Altuntop, the reasons for the downswing are
- newly installed natural gas pipelines, which local installers favoured in some parts of the country.
- a VAT rate of 18% on solar water heaters, whereas other products, such as furniture, pay only half of this rate.
- no supporting measures by the government for solar thermal technology.
Altuntop, who is also a professor at the Erciyes University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Kayseri, Turkey, and his team have carried out a market survey among national manufacturers year after year. “We send questionnaires to around 120 component manufacturers of solar thermal systems to find out about the produced collector quantity,” explains Gunder's president.“ There are 10 to 15 companies leading the market,” adds the professor. “They supply nearly 60 % of the market.” The other 40 % share belongs to small and “garage companies”. This makes the total market size difficult to estimate, says Altuntop.
“The figures given by professor Altuntop show the real trend over the last years,” Hakan Alas, vice managing director of one of the biggest manufacturers in Turkey, Ezinc Metal San. Tic, agrees. “But you have to add 10 to 15 % each year, because the association is not able to get numbers from some small-size manufacturers.”
Trakya Cam, the float glass division of the international glass manufacturer Şişecam, can also confirm the statistical trend the market figures from Gunder are showing. The cooperation with its 17,000 employees is one of the world's leading glass manufacturers. Şişecam is the only manufacturer of float and patterned glass in Turkey. But on average, its sales figures of untempered glass regarding the national collector industry lie far above the annual Gunder statistics.
Even among large businesses, Gunder´s market survey may not cover the market as a whole. For example, Solimpeks Solar Energy Systems, which is among the tenth biggest collector manufacturers in Turkey and exports collectors in large numbers – never received a questionnaire from Gunder. Solimpeks' vice president Faruk Dağ believes that, right now, the export rate makes up no more than 15 % of the total annual collector production. “Once international quality expectations are met, there will be a great potential for Turkish manufacturers to appeal to consumers worldwide," Dağ is convinced.