Domestic Hot Water and Heating

  • Spain: Solar Obligation since 2006

    In March 2006 the Spanish Government passed the new Technical Buildings Code (CTE). It has been the most significant reform of the country’s building sector in decades. The law covers safety, health and noise protection issues in buildings, and it deals with sustainability and energy...

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  • MTS: International Player from Italy

    MTS: International Player from Italy

    Solar thermal factory in Italy: Flat-plate collectors for the MTS Group’s business are produced at this new site in central Italy. Photo: MTS Group

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  • Energy Company Bosch Buys Cell Manufacturer Ersol

    Energy Company Bosch Buys Cell Manufacturer Ersol

    Robert Bosch GmbH has taken over the Thuringian solar cell manufacturer Ersol Solar Energy AG, Germany. In August the world’s largest automotive supplier and electronics company bought up 44.76 % of the shares from the previous majority shareholder Ventizz Capital Partners Advisory AG. Since...

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  • Solar Coatings: Tinox Gets a Strong Partner

    Solar Coatings: Tinox Gets a Strong Partner

    During the solar fair Intersolar 2008 in June, the German-based MAGE Industrie Holding AG and the Italian-based Almeco Group announced the merger of their coating activities in the solar thermal business field. The combination of the Almeco Group and the MAGE subsidiary Tinox GmbH brings together a...
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  • Confident Newcomers in the U.S.

    Confident Newcomers in the U.S.

    After almost 20 years of stagnant markets, since 2005 the U.S. solar thermal market is exploding. According to the official governmental statistics (www.eia.doe.gov) the market rose by 77 % in 2006 to 111,480 m2 (78 MWth). After many years of winter sleep the local industry is...
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  • Summer boom in Germany

    Summer boom in Germany

    Germany's solar thermal market is growing again, and this at an astonishing rate. After market sales plummeted by 37 % in the past year, the monthly sales statistics of BDH (Federal Industrial Association Germany House, Energy and Environmental Technology) – as they are available to the author –...
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  • Process Heat: the Solar Thermal Challenge of the Future

    So far solar thermal technology is mostly used for domestic hot water, pool heating and room heating. It´s often forgotten that there is a huge demand for heat below 250 °C in industry, which can easily be reached with solar thermal collectors.

    An international team of researchers...

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  • Is there enough sunshine in all regions?

    Solar thermal systems produce hot water whether the system is installed in Sweden, Germany, India, Tunisia or South America. The annual yield depends on the application (domestic hot water, pool heating, space heating), the local climatic conditions and system dimensioning (high or low solar fraction). The annual collector yield per square metre of collector area lies around 250 kWh/m2 for unglazed pool heating systems, 400 kWh/m2 for solar combi systems for hot water production and space heating in northern regions, and up to 700 kWh/m2 for installations in southern European regions used only for hot water preparation.

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  • What can solar thermal technology be used for?

    There is a wide variety of applications for solar thermal technology. The most common application is the heating of pool water, the heating of domestic hot water and space heating. Not very wide spread yet are solar cooling systems, because of the complexity of the technology and the high initial investment costs. Also, process heat applications such as in breweries or car washes, as well as in the food and textile industries, are still in their infancy. You can search for all these different kinds of applications in the filter section market sectors on the right hand side of the page.

    What is the difference between vacuum tube collectors and flat plate collectors? With flat plate glazed collectors the absorbers are fitted in a box closed by a pane of glass (90 % market share in 2009 in Europe). Vacuum tube collectors – which are the dominating technology in China (96 % market share in 2008) – have the absorber coating on the outside of the inner tube in placed within an evacuated glass tube. Generally speaking, the advantage of vacuum tubes is a higher efficiency (less space required for the collector on the roof) and higher temperatures (necessary for process heat and some solar cooling technologies).

    The disadvantage: The vacuum tubes produced in Europe are more expensive than the flat plate collectors but in some incentive schemes like in Germany they receive the same grants as the flat plate collectors. In China, some locally produced vacuum tube collectors have a poor quality performance, flat plate collectors are seen as high-quality products.

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  • Which are the major solar thermal markets worldwide?

    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.

    Further information:

    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)

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  • Is solar thermal technology still a niche market?

    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.

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