Solar thermal systems most probably have higher "first costs" than other kinds of heating systems. Also, the energy is not available 24 hours a day and not sufficiently during all seasons of the year. That means that storage systems like water tanks and backup systems are a must in all solar thermal installations.
Pool Heating, Solar Thermal Power
“Replacing imported fuels with local jobs”, this slogan of the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) sums up perfectly the advantages of solar thermal technology for a national economy. The six biggest solar thermal markets in Europe – Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Greece and France – already exceeded 34,000 full time jobs in 2007 (check related article here). With an annual average growth rate of 20 % that is 6,800 jobs more each year. In the boom year 2008 in Europe this calculation results in 116,000 full-time jobs.
Furthermore solar thermal technology is an export trigger. In mature markets solar thermal industry is reaching high export rates. In 2007, Austria produced four times as many collectors as were newly installed in the country. In Greece, for the first time in 2008, the export will exceed local sales. 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)
Published in January 2007, by EREC (European Renewable Energy Council), the document shows the ambitions of the European Renewable Energy Industry to reach the EU targets for 2020 for different sectors, including electricity, heating & cooling, and biofuels.
It provides roadmaps for each sector, predicting its development and the conditions under which progress can be made.
Nowadays, in the EU-25, fossil fuels contribute to almost 80 % of the primary energy demand. The target of 20% renewable energy use by 2020 seems to be quite challenging, especially if the appropriate legal framework and incentives are not put in place.
This EREC report estimates that the contribution to the total primary energy demand will only be roughly 8% in 2010, slightly more than 12% in 2020 and only 12% in 2030 which is very far away from any target set. As for the energy supply, scenarios are more positive: 21% in 2020 if the policy developments and instruments continue progressing.
If different and specific targets were set, then it would be easier to achieve the given targets. According to EREC, the Renewable Energy roadmap should consist of an overall target for 2020, followed by targets for the different sectors (electricity, heating/cooling, biofuels). Setting up individual targets for the different sectors would fasten the process, given that not all sectors are in the same stage of development.
As what regards the solar thermal market, this report estimates that more funding on R&D would enable a broader adoption of solar thermal solutions for heating, cooling and storage.
This document from 2007, released by the European Commission, refers projects, financed under the 6th EU Research Framework Programme (FP6), to boost the use of solar power technologies in Europe, as a part of the EU’s goal of achieving 20% share of renewable energies inits overall energy...
The world's largest solar thermal power plant has been in operation for 2 decades in the California Mojave desert.