Technology

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Solar Thermal

News Solar Thermal


ONE ONLY HAS TO VENTURE ONTO THE ROOF OF ANY BUILDING IN SPAIN DURING MOST OF THE YEAR TO UNDERSTAND THE REASONING BEHIND A TECHNOLOGY SUCH AS THE SOLAR THERMAL COLLECTOR, WHICH PROVIDES US WITH HOT WATER AND HEATING FROM A FREE AND ABUNDANT RESOURCE.

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.

Existing homes
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.
Milestones

  • In November 1999, Sant Joan Despí approves the first solar by-law in Spain. Barcelona had passed a similar by-law in July of the same year, but this did not come into effect until July 2000.
  • On 29 March 2006, the Technical Building Code comes into effect, requiring all new and refurbished buildings to be fitted with solar thermal energy.
  • Solar thermal energy contributed 129 ktep to the primary energy balance in 2008. This amounts to only 0.1% of the total for all energy technologies, but the growth rate was 38.8% compared to the previous year (93 ktep in 2007).
  • According to the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (Estif), the European solar thermal market grew 60% in 2008. The European Union has an average of 54 square metres of collectors per thousand inhabitants. Spain has 10.
  • Austria has the greatest number of solar thermal kilowatts per capita, with a total capacity of 273 kWt per thousand inhabitants. Only Cyprus surpasses this world benchmark, with 623 kWt per thousand inhabitants at the end of 2008.
  • In November 2008, the Spanish- Swiss company, ClimateWell, opened the first plant producing solar cooling equipment in Ólvega (Soria). This plant supplies Spain, Belgium, Italy, France, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland and Germany..