The ambitious scenario of the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) expects Europe will reach 0.7 kWth (1 m2 of collector area) per European in 2020, equivalent to a total capacity in operation in the EU by then of 320 GWth. To reach this target, a suitable support framework will be required and solar will then be widely used for both cooling and supplying process heat, though the majority of this capacity will still supply domestic hot water and space heating. The average yearly growth rate of the EU market necessary to reach this target is 31 % – less than the rate achieved in 2006 and only 7 % above the 2002 to 2006 average. This scenario requires – supposing a linear growth – an installation of 12.2 GWth (17 million m2) in the year 2020, six times more than in 2007, when 2.1 GWth (3 million m2) were newly installed in Europe as a whole. Further Information: “Solar Thermal Action Plan for Europe” by the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) http://www.estif.org/policies/st_action_plan/
By far the largest solar thermal market in the world according to newly installed solar thermal capacity per year is China. In 2008, around 21 GWth (30 million m2) were sold in China, which was around 80 % of the world global solar thermal market.
In Europe, Germany – the second biggest market in the world – is dominating. With its newly installed capacity of 1.13 GWth (1,615,000 m2) in 2009, the country reached a market share of 38 % within Europe.
Position three is held by Turkey, a dynamic solar thermal market which is estimated at 785 MWth ( 1,120,000 m2).
Besides these front-runners, India, Brazil, Israel, Austria, Greece, USA, Japan, France, Italy, Spain and Australia are countries which reached a market volume of greater than 70 MWth (100,000 m2) in 2007.
Solarenergie 2007, Study by the Swiss bank Sarasin, November 2008 (Only available in German)
Solar thermal Markets in Europe. Trends and Market Statistics 2009, Study by European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF), June 2009 (see the following link)
There are a number of mature markets like Israel, Austria, Barbados, China or Cyprus where solar thermal is used by a wide majority of people for heating the domestic hot water and sometimes for room heating.
One factor that shows the market penetration of this technology in a certain country is the total capacity installed per capita. In Cyprus there were 0.65 kWth in operation per capita at the end of 2007 followed by Israel (0.5 kWth/head), Austria (0.23 kWth/head) and Barbados (0.2 kWth/head). You find niche markets when looking at market penetrations such as in the United States with only 0.006 kWth per capita or in sunny South Africa with so far not more than 0.0036 kWth per capita. Also, there is still quite a large untouched potential worldwide in using solar thermal technology for cooling and for supplying process heat.
Further information: Solar Heat Worldwide, a study from the IEA Solar Heating & Cooling Programme, May 2009 (http://www.aee-intec.at/0uploads/dateien648.pdf)
0.7 kWth nominal solar thermal power equals 1 m2 of collector area.
Generally speaking, you can differentiate between naturally growing markets and incentive driven markets. In the former, low-cost solar water heaters are already an economic alternative for households to produce hot water instead of using fossil fuels or electricity. Some examples are: China, which is the biggest solar thermal market in the world, Cyprus which has one of the highest solar thermal capacities in operation per capita in the world, and Turkey, which is the third biggest market in the world.
In incentive driven markets like Germany, there are grants for households and companies. In Austria there is a nationwide subsidy scheme for hotels and guesthouses and there are grants at a provincial level for household customers.
A third category is markets driven by legal frameworks such as solar obligations. The most famous example is Israel, where the government – because of the oil crisis – passed an obligation applying to all new residential buildings as well as hotels, old people’s homes and boarding schools 29 years ago. Spain followed two years ago with a national solar obligation. In the meantime 15 countries more adapted renewable building laws or solar obligations. You find further news on this issues in the filter section "key pillars", then "policy" and "obligation".
Further information: “Best practise regulations for solar thermal”, Study by the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF), August 2007 http://www.estif.org/fileadmin/estif/content/policies