Solar Heat Worldwide -- Global Report on Solar Heating and Cooling

Solar Thermal Achieves Great Fossil Fuel Savings -- megawatt systems on the rise

31 May 2017. Solar thermal systems save 40.3 million tons of oil equivalent per year and reduce CO2 emissions by 130 million tons annually. This is one of the key findings of the report Solar Heat Worldwide, published today by the International Energy Agency's Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (IEA SHC). With data from 66 countries, it is the most comprehensive annual evaluation of solar heating and cooling markets worldwide. The report points out the relevance of solar thermal technology for climate protection. By the end of 2016, solar thermal installations with a total capacity of 456 gigawatt thermal (GWth) were in operation worldwide, providing 375 terrawatt hours (TWh) of clean heating and cooling energy. In terms of capacity Solar Thermal is by far larger than PV (303 GW) and solar thermal power (5 GW). Megawatt-scale solar thermal systems for district heating and process heat have gained importance in 2016.


"Large-scale solar thermal systems to support district heating plants and industrial applications have gained increasing interest all over the world in recent years. Several ambitious projects have been implemented successfully ", said Ken Guthrie, Chairman of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Technology Collaboration Programme (IEA SHC).

In Europe in 2016, thirty-seven large-scale solar thermal installations (>350 kWth = 500 m²) were built compared to 20 systems in 2015. The largest of them set a new world record: In December 2016 the 110 MWth plant in Silkeborg, Denmark, was connected to the town‘s district heating network. Outside Denmark, megawatt scale solar thermal plants are still a niche market, but they have a huge potential. By the end of 2016, 300 large-scale solar thermal systems were connected to district heating networks and 18 were connected to cooling networks in Europe. With a total of 1.15 GWth, large-scale systems only account for 0.3 % of the global solar thermal capacity.

Besides district heating and cooling networks, the use of solar thermal technologies to provide heat, steam or refrigeration for industrial processes is increasing. The main applications are in the food and beverage industry, metal processing and textile manufacturing. By early 2017, the report identified more than 500 solar thermal installations producing heat for industrial applications. Solar process heat is picking up in several countries worldwide led by a new arising supply industry in Mexico, India, Austria and China.

Commercial applications of solar thermal energy are gaining importance
Despite positive developments, Solar Heat Worldwide also discusses some challenges: In the most important markets - China and Europe - solar thermal is under pressure. Domestic water heater sales are suffering from the increasing competition by heat pumps and PV installations. As a consequence, in 2015, solar thermal sales declined in a number of established markets, such as China (-17%), Germany (-9.7%), Italy (-14%) and Spain (-6%).

Worldwide, the market for domestic hot water systems for single-family houses is losing ground to larger systems. Water heaters for single family homes stand for 63% of total capacity in operation, but only for 41% of the new installations in 2015. "For the first time, in 2015 every second new collector was installed for use in multi-family buildings, tourism and the public sector", said Guthrie.

The economics of large-scale solar hot water systems vary widely. On the low end is India and Brazil, where large domestic hot water systems for multi-family homes, hotels and hospitals supply heat at costs of 2 €-Ct/kWh. On the high end of solar heat costs are Denmark and France at 12 €-Ct/kWh and 14 €-Ct/kWh, respectively.

Key Global Figures of Solar Heating and Cooling
Total capacity in operation end of 2016 1 456 GWth
Growth in total capacity in operation 2015/2016 +5%
Annual C02 emission savings 130 million tons of CO2
Top five countries: new additions 2015 2 China, Turkey, India, Brazil, and United States
Top five countries: total capacity in operation end of 2015 2 China, United States, Turkey, Germany, and Brazil
Top five countries: total capacity per capita end of 2015 2 Barbados, Austria, Cyprus, Israel, and Greece
Number of full-time jobs in production, installation and maintenance globally 714,000 jobs
1 Unglazed, glazed flat-plate and evacuated tube collectors with water as the energy carrier as well as glazed and unglazed air collectors are considered.
2 Glazed and unglazed water collectors are considered.

Solar Heat Worldwide
First published in 2002, Solar Heat Worldwide 2017 gathered market data from 66 countries worldwide on installed capacities, costs and share of applications. The 86-page report includes chapters on commercial applications and Levelized Costs of Heat. Solar Heat Worldwide has a solid reputation as reference for solar heating and cooling data among international organizations including REN21 and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The study was again the main contributor for the solar heating and cooling chapters of REN21's Renewable 2017 Global Status Report (GSR), which is one of the key policy adviser reports on renewables.

International Energy Agency, Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (IEA SHC)
IEA SHC is an international research and information platform on solar heating and cooling technologies. Over 200 experts from 21 countries and five organizations conduct collaborative research on a wide range of topics from urban planning for green quarters to future storage tank concepts and the integration of large-scale solar fields in district heating and cooling networks. SHC is one of the oldest Technology Collaboration Programmes of the IEA founded in 1977 and one of ten in the field of renewable energies.

Download the full report: http://www.iea-shc.org/data/sites/1/publications/Solar-Heat-Worldwide-2017.pdf

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