Policy

  • 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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  • What are the advantages of solar thermal water heating systems at a personal level?

    Most importantly: The energy of the sun is endless, sufficient and free of charge. Using solar water heating technology makes you independent of the rapidly increasing fossil fuel prices. It saves customers energy, money, is clean and safe and it is a long-living technology with life cycles of 25 years and more.
    In the summer your system can provide 100 % of your hot water demand for showering and bathing. To make sure that you do not run out of hot water, there is always a backup system for the times the solar system cannot provide all your needs. In sunny regions such as Southern Europe and Northern Africa solar water heaters can provide almost 100 % of the hot water demand of a family.

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  • Which are the big players of the industry?

    You have fast-growing independent producers here which focus on the production of solar thermal components only. Some of these companies are more than 30 years old, like the German Wagner & Co, the Israeli Chromagen and the US-American Sun-Earth. But the global market leaders today are newer firms like Greenonetec in Austria, the biggest flat-plate collector manufacturer in the world, which was founded in 1991 (turnover 2008: 117 million Euro). Find the ranking of the biggest flat-plate collector manufacturers here.

    The giants of the European heating industry discovered the advantages of heating with the sun only ten years ago. Today all of them offer solar thermal systems and most of them have started producing their own collectors, e.g. Viessmann, Bosch Thermotechnik, the MTS Group or the Vaillant Group. Check the biggest European heating companies here.

    The big players in China are the manufactures of the vacuum tubes for vacuum tube collectors; the three biggest among them are Linuo New Materials, Himin and Sangle.

    Another sector which is gaining strength is the coatings industry, providing absorber sheets with a certain coating which guarantees very high absorptivity and very little emissivity. The two biggest players worldwide are the German companies Alanod-Solar GmbH & Co. KG and Bluetec GmbH & Co. KG. In the next few years, façade and roof specialists are likely to enter the market in Europe. Additionally, a few more national heating manufacturers will start selling and producing solar thermal systems.

    Further information:www.greenonetec.com,www.sunearthinc, www.chromagen.biz, www.alanod-sunselect.de, www.bluetec-germany.de, http://www.bosch-thermotechnik.de/,www.vaillant-group.com ,www.viessmann.com,www.mtsgroup.com, www.wagner-solartechnik.de, www.lnxcl.com/ (Linuo New Materials)www.himin.com and www.sangle.com

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  • What are the long-term future perspectives of the sector worldwide?

    The international solar thermal market is growing constantly but with ups and downs. According to the annual study "Solar Heat Worldwide" the newly installed collector area globally grew accordingly:

    2004: 12.6 % 

    2005: 10.3 %

    2006:  22 %

    2007: 8.7 %

    The future perspective depends very much on the market development in China. In the last seven years the solar thermal market in the People’s Republic increased at an average rate of 21 % per year.

    Further information: Solar Heat Worldwide, a study from the IEA Solar Heating & Cooling Programme, May 2009 (http://www.aee-intec.at/0uploads/dateien648.pdf)

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  • Which are the main market drivers?

    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
    /STAP/Best_practice_solar_regulations.pdf

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  • Renewable Energy Technology Roadmap up to 2020

    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.

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  • Concentrating Solar Power from Research to Implementation

    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...
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  • Heat Measurement Technologies for Larger Solar Thermal Systems

    This report provides an overview of the state of the art of measuring heat delivery in larger solar systems, looking also at the costs and accuracy of the measuring systems. The present document was produced within the framework of the Intelligent Energy- Europe project Key Issues for...

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