In these parts, solar thermal collectors have become a familiar part of the urban landscape in recent years. Thanks to the greenhouse effect, they use solar radiation to heat water and provide heating and, in some industrial installations, cooling. This latter application is especially promising in our country where demand for cooling shoots up on the hottest days, i.e. when this resource is most abundant. The enactment of the Technical Building Code (CTE) in 2006, a regulation with the power of a Royal Decree which requires all new and refurbished buildings to be fitted with solar thermal energy, was the boost that this technology needed to become established in Spain.
Nevertheless, the recession, which has particularly affected the real estate sector, will slow down initially forecast growth. Despite this, in 2008, 466,000 square metres were installed, with the accumulated total surface area reaching 1,664,771 m2. In Spain, many homes are now fitted with some form of solar array (photovoltaic, and, above all, solar thermal), primarily installed over the last few years. The potential, however, is still huge. A large untapped market remains and the continuous upward trend gives rise to optimism.
Given the critical role of heat-generating renewable energies in reaching Spain’s targets, this sector must increase its share of the energy balance. The drop in construction activity will undoubtedly be a hindrance, although the market still remains very large. Existing housing, large service-sector buildings, specific industrial applications, etc. will now be priority targets for solar thermal energy in Spain in forthcoming years.
To accelerate the roll-out of this technology, new support systems will have to be devised that are tailored to all situations and enable this technology to make a qualitative and quantitative leap forward and, in doing so, play a more important role in achieving Spain’s objectives for 2020.