The latest statistics show that solar thermal is now contributing an estimated 20 TWhth to the thermal energy used in the European Union, with a total installed capacity adding up to 28.3 GWth. However, the latest European Commission’s “Renewable energy progress report” indicates that current and planned policy initiatives are faltering and solar thermal may fall short of the 2020 target by 55%.
Although the European solar thermal installed capacity more than trebled over the past decade; the newly installed capacity in 2012 was lower than in the previous year, amounting to 2.41 GWth.. Even in this difficult economic climate, the solar thermal industry still represented a combined turnover of EUR 2.4 billion in 2012, supporting 32 000 full time equivalent jobs.
Some traditional market segments have felt the impact of the recession, while others, such as solar industrial process heat, are looking up. Whereas some mature markets experienced some setbacks, others are showing great resilience and encouraging signs are observed in emerging markets which are developing apace.
Well-established market segments, such as domestic hot water production for single family dwellings, have mostly been affected by the economic downturn. However, in several of the major European markets, large size systems (above 35 kWth) for commercial heating and cooling applications, and very large systems (above 350 kWth) used in solar district heating, have shown a rapid growth and a very positive development. Denmark has proved to be the land of large solar district heating, accounting for 65% of the European total installed capacity in large size systems.
Germany, the European solar thermal colossus stumbled. The German market represents almost 40% of the total installed capacity in Europe, but in 2012 it decreased by 9.4 %, thus contributing to the overall negative result in Europe. However, other countries such as Poland, Hungary and Belgium continued to grow, confirming the importance of financial incentive schemes as a tool for the uptake of solar thermal in the early stages of market development.
“Support for solar heat, energy savings and renewable energy should be about a real level playing field in the market. The “energy transition” is a political choice implemented via public policies as energy policies always are”, added ESTIF President, Robin Welling.
Southern European countries, such as Portugal, Italy and Spain, have once again experienced a sharp decrease with several consecutive years of decline. On the bright side, in spite of the hard hitting recession, Greece has managed to remain stable over the past two years demonstrating that solar heat can provide an affordable and reliable solution, as well as greater energy independence for consumers.
The European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) actively promotes the use of solar thermal technology for renewable heating and cooling in Europe. With around 80 members from 17 European countries, ESTIF represents the whole value chain in today’s solar thermal market: from manufacturers, service providers, and national associations to research institutes.
About the new ESTIF publication “Solar Thermal Markets in Europe – Trends and Market Statistics 2012”
This year’s edition of the market statistics provides once again a detailed overview of single markets and trends in the European solar thermal sector with charts and analyses; as well as a detachable map showing the European data at a glance. There are also innovations such as a country focus on Croatia, joining the European Union on 1 July 2013; and the NREAP Barometer.
For more information on: ESTIF