On the background of increasing costs for the main materials of solar thermal collectors polymeric materials offers a significant cost-reduction potential for all-polymeric flat-plate collectors in the low temperature field of application. However, as the long-term service temperature of cost-efficient plastics is limited for potential applications in solar absorbers an appropriate design including overheating protection is essential. The stagnation behaviour may be controlled by thermotropic layers. Such layers change their light transmission behaviour depending on the temperature. Development objectives for such layers were calculated by theoretical modelling.
The energy needed for heating, cooling and ventilation of buildings in the industrial countries represent over 30% of the entire primary energy demand. The building sector is therewith, next to the sectors “transportation” and “agriculture”, one of the main contributors to the greenhouse emission CO2. These facts and the goals in the Kyoto agreement show the importance of the identification of sustainable solutions for the building sector, which will long- to middle-term considerably reduce the emissions that arise from the operation of a building.
The building sector presently covers approximately 40% of the total energy demand in the EU. This energy demand can be reduced to 22% through implementation of relevant saving measures, if the economical frameworks are advantageous. These figures clearly show the importance of working active with “the increase in the energy efficient in buildings”. Important, legal frameworks shall be created through the implementation of the EU building directive.
The overall goal of the project is to implement activities that reduce the negative impacts from increasing cooling demand in Europe through an increased market penetration of sustainable cooling approaches and technologies. A “preliminary definition” of sustainable cooling consists of the following elements: reducing heat load; minimizing the electricity consumption; increasing the use of renewable energy sources.
To promote the use of solar energy, the European Commission started the “Soltherm Europe Initiative“ in 2002. The project is an initiative to enhance the rapid market growth of thermal solar plants in Europe.
The Network gathers 36 expert organisations throughout the Europe (12 EU countries, 9 Candidate countries and Israel), all having a mandate to promote innovative, energy-efficient energy technologies with a focus on building-related technologies.
In the framework of the project a solar water heater was developed, which is modular and can be manufactured by local companies from materials available in Zimbabwe. To guarantee the further development of the system and the adaptation of the plant concept to different users and requirements, an extensive training programme was conducted.