Solar thermal heating, which harnesses the sun’s energy for domestic water heating, space heating, and other industrial processes…
Solar thermal heating, which harnesses the sun’s energy for domestic water heating, space heating, and other industrial processes, expanded by 19 GW to reach 147 GW of capacity worldwide in 2007
Solar thermal energy produced enough energy globally, in 2007, to meet the equivalent heating needs of 15% of US households.
According to the latest Vital Signs snapshot of solar thermal trends, China, with the largest solar thermal heating market, has two- thirds of global capacity and, despite a market downturn in 2007, accounted for 80% of newly installed systems that year.
In Rizhao, China, where about 99% of all households use solar water heating, the initial capital costs for solar water heaters are on a par with conventional electric systems, while lifecycle costs demonstrate annual savings of 3% to 6% of the average 2006 household income.
Heating accounts for more than two-thirds of total energy use in buildings, which emit 30% to 40% of global greenhouse gases.
Renewable heating resources, like solar thermal energy, displace conventional heating fuels, primarily natural gas and electricity.
WorldWatch Institute sustainable energy fellow Amanda Chiu says that the market in Turkey, second to China, peaked in 2004 and reached an annual thermal heating installation plateau of 490 MW in 2006 and 2007.
Germany, however, remains the market leader in Europe, with 660 MW of new instal- lations, despite a substantial 37% decrease between 2006 and 2007.
“This decline has been attributed to reductions in subsidies, a maturing heating market, the economic slowdown, an increase in the value-added tax and a mild winter,” she adds.
She says that the European market experienced its first slowdown in five years in 2007, with 10% fewer new installations than in 2006.
In Israel, the fifth-largest market, new instal-lations totalling 49,7 MW plummeted by two-thirds in 2007 compared with figures for 2006.
“Despite this, Israel has a long history of promoting solar thermal heating, dating back to 1980, when it became the first country to implement a solar thermal heating law,” she notes.