Prospects for Large-Scale Solar Heating Systems in Europe
Conference contribution, 2007
In total, there are about 19 million m2 of solar collectors in Europe, corresponding to about 13 GWth (thermal power), where the majority of the collectors are installed in small systems with up to a few kWth. However, the relevant heat loads vary from a few kW up to several GWth and about 9% of the heating loads in Europe are covered by block and district heating systems. So far, only a minor part of the European collector market comprises large-scale applications. European large-scale solar heating plants having more than 500 m2 (~350 kWth) of solar collectors have only about 125 MW thermal power altogether, i.e. about 1% of the installations. There is thus a need to develop large-scale applications in order to utilize the full potential of solar heat to cover existing heat loads.
The first large-scale solar heating applications were introduced in Sweden in the late 70’s. Interests in large-scale solar heating, especially in Germany and Austria, increased during the 90’s and about 80 plants with more than 500 m² of solar collectors are put into operation since mid 90’s. Large-scale plants show more favorable costs of solar heat than most small systems and a strong market growth for small systems in Spain and France could now lead to an increased interest for large-scale applications also in Southern Europe. However, Sweden is still the leading country with more than 20 out of about 100 European large-scale plants (>500 m2; >350 kWth).
The European Solar Thermal Technology Platform (ESTTP) has been formed to develop a vision and a strategy for solar thermal in Europe. The majority of large-scale solar applications are installed in block and district heating systems and one of the ESTTP working groups will deal with the prospects for Solar District Heating (and Cooling) Plants. The paper gives an update on the present status and describes initial visions and strategies to increase the development of large-scale solar thermal applications in co-operation with representatives for Euroheat and Power.