Solar Heat Worldwide 2021, with data from 68 countries, is the most comprehensive evaluation of solar heating and cooling markets worldwide. The 2021 edition was published by the International Energy Agency's Solar Heating and Cooling Technology Collaboration Programme (IEA SHC). The publication of the report is supported also by the Austrian Ministry for Climate Action.
The goal of the report is to give an overview of the general trends, to highlight special applications and outstanding projects and to document the solar thermal capacity installed in the important markets worldwide. Furthermore, it is the goal to ascertain the contribution of solar thermal systems to the supply of energy and the CO2 emissions avoided as a result of operating these systems.
Targeted Energy Policies Drive Solar Heating Growth
Germany's solar thermal market confirms the impact of targeted energy policies can have. About 10 years ago, Germany was by far Europe's largest solar thermal market with 1.5 GWth of new capacity, but by 2019 it was hovering around 0.36 GWth of new capacity. But times have changed, and in 2020 Germany's solar thermal market increased by approximately 26% compared to 2019 to around 650,000m², corresponding to nearly 0.5 GWth of newly installed capacity. The dramatic increase in demand is largely due to the new federal subsidy for efficient buildings.
Trends to Follow
Solar district heating: By the end of 2020, 262 large-scale so lar district heating systems (> 350 kWth; 500 m²) with an installed capacity of 1.41 GWth (2.01 million m²) were in operation. Germany took over the leading role from Denmark in solar district heating in 2020. Of the 11 large-scale solar thermal systems (> 500 m²) connected to district heating networks added in Europe, 7 were built in Germany.
Solar heat for industrial processes (SHIP) continues its steady growth with at least 74 plants added in 2020. The SHIP plants are used for many applications, with the largest at an oil production plant in Oman (300MWth), followed by a greenhouse application in Australia (36.6 MWth) and copper mine in Chile (27.5 MWth).
Photovoltaic Thermal (PVT) leads the trend towards hybrid solar heat solutions, experiencing a steady growth of 9% on average from 2018 to 2020 and 8% in the dominant European market.
A very interesting development can be observed in South Africa. The country is seeing a shift towards heating water directly with electricity using photovoltaic (PV) technologies. These systems consist of PV modules directly connected to an electrical element that heats the water with DC power without the need for inverters. 11,700 of these PV2 heat systems were installed by December 2020.
Authors: Werner Weiss and Monika Spörk-Dür, AEE INTEC, Austria