Start-up Thermondo, based in Berlin, Germany, has turned the tables on sales and planning methods for home heating systems. Not only does the company generate its turnover online, it also leaves most of the planning for heating installations to a computer algorithm called “Manfred”. Surprisingly, Philipp Pausder, one of the two managing directors of Thermondo, said that the most important outcome of the new strategy wasn’t low prices but great service. The photo shows Thermondo’s three founding members (from left): Philipp Pausder, Florian Tetzlaff and Kristofer Fichtner.
The main objective of IEA SHC Task 52, Solar Thermal in Energy Supply Systems in Urban Environments, is to call attention to both the technical and economic aspects of solar heating and cooling usage in densely populated urban areas. Urban planners and commercial clients want to know the costs compared to the energy output generated by various solar heating technologies. A method to benchmark different solar heat production systems is Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE). This method is described by the IEA as the “average price that would have to be paid by consumers to repay exactly the investor/operator for the capital, operation and maintenance and fuel expenses, with a rate of return equal to the discount rate”. The chart shows the LCOE for different applications and system sizes in northern / central European climates, taken from the most current Task 52 study Technology and Demonstrators (for further details see table below). The author of the study, Franz Mauthner from Austrian research institute AEE INTEC, contributed to this article, which elaborates on the method and the calculations behind it.
Chart: Task 52 / Technology and Demonstrators study
The Indian solar thermal market has had no official market statistics since the residential subsidy scheme was halted in August 2014. To close the gap, Indian consultant and solarthermalworld.org contributor Jaideep Malaviya carried out his own survey to estimate the newly installed glazed collector area in financial year 2015-16. Malaviya determined the number of vacuum tubes and complete solar water heater systems which were imported to the country and asked the suppliers of absorber fins for flat plate collector for their figures. The study resulted in an estimated 1.01 million m2 of gross area (707 MWth) added in 2015-16 – a 14 % decrease compared to the previous financial year. The last two years in the chart show the annual market volume based on his calculations.
Chart source data: MNRE until 2013-14, estimates by Jaideep Malaviya 2014-15 and 2015-16
Energy Service Companies (ESCO) have become pioneers in the development of financing and operating models for various energy sector customers. Every two years, the so-called Contracting Award highlights exemplary ESCO projects in Germany (“Contracting” is the German word for Energy Service Contracts). For the first time since the launch of the awards in 1997, the jury members from the magazine Energy & Management and the German Heat & Power Association, AGFW, presented one of these awards to a solar thermal ESCO. On 16 April, Christian Holter (third from left), Managing Director of Austrian turnkey system supplier S.O.L.I.D., was presented with the second prize for its solar energy supply contract with a district heating company in the Austrian city of Graz. The company published Tech Sheets and Fact Sheets about ESCO models as part of the IEA’s Solar Heating and Cooling programme’s Task 45, Large Scale Solar Heating and Cooling Systems (see the attached documents).
The first and so far unique solar district heating plant in Italy completed its first year in operation in mid-May this year. According to metering by the operator of the 990 m² collector field, utility Varese Risorse, output was significantly higher than expected. The chart shows the total output measured over almost 12 months: It was 13 % higher than the target figure. The solar district heating plant was developed and installed by a newly founded Italian company, SDH Energy, which also guaranteed the solar yield (red line).
On 11 May, construction work started on a new 2,230 m2 ground-mounted collector array (2,090 m2 of aperture area) in the city of Chemnitz. The project is said to be completed within about a month, and the plant is scheduled to come into operation a few weeks later. The collector field is expected to supply almost 5 % of the heat provided by the new district heating grid for the Brühl housing development near the city centre.
The IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (IEA SHC) broadens its sponsor network. The most recent members are the International Solar Energy Society (ISES), headquartered in Germany, and the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD) based in Qatar. ISES joined as a Sponsor in 2016 and GORD already in 2015. “We welcome the engagement of ISES and GORD in the IEA SHC Programme,“ says Ken Guthrie, Chairman of IEA SHC. “ISES represents an extensive network of solar thermal professionals from around the world and GORD opens the doors to the Gulf States – potential future markets for solar cooling“.
Armenia, a small country in South Caucasus, is home to an innovative financing scheme for solar thermal systems and other energy efficiency measures. In 2014, Armenian ACBA Leasing launched the Green Leasing programme for small and medium enterprises from any industry. According to an article published on 24 March 2016 on Armenian news website news.am, Green Leasing had already helped fund several solar thermal systems for different customers, such as seven hotels, four catering businesses and more than 20 service companies. One of the most well-known customers was the Tufenkian Hotel in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital: The roof installation of 1,140 vacuum tubes was done in December last year (see photo).
The organiser of the two day conference Solar Thermal Energy for Europe 2020 is inviting stakeholders from the industry and solar heating and cooling researchers to Brussels, Belgium, on 24 and 25 May to offer them first-hand information on Horizon 2020 calls, an exchange of ideas and experiences and a venue for finding soon-to-be project partners. The European Solar Thermal Technology Platform (ESTTP) of the Innovation Platform on Renewable Heating and Cooling (RHC) concludes with a workshop on the Price Reduction of Solar Thermal Systems. The one-and-a-half hour session will be organised by the researchers of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme’s Task 54, which goes by the same name as the workshop.
Piyush Goyal, Indian Minister of State for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, awarded prizes to 102 institutions, companies and agencies for their achievements in high-temperature solar process heat and cooking. The photo shows the minister calling on the manufacturers to share their innovative ideas and make India a unique place for the demonstration of solar process heating technologies. The Concentrated Solar Technology Excellence Awards 2016 ceremony was organised by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in cooperation with the GEF-UNDP programme for concentrating solar thermal and took place in New Delhi on 29 April 2016. This was the first time in the history of India’s solar thermal industry that so many awards were presented at only one event. Additionally, 37 projects from all over the country received sanction letters for the MNRE capital subsidy and GEF-UNDP support scheme.