In spite of various possibilities of application and an, at this time, very good financial support for solar systems supplying process heat, the market is still developing very slowly. Here you can find information about the variety of application options and the current development of the market in Germany.
The advantage of solar thermal heat supply for processes in the industrial, commercial, agricultural and forestry sector compared to domestic applications is that in most cases there is a large heat demand in the summer months as well. Thus, the systems can be operated continuously and deliver heat in months with high solar radiation. Therefore, they are very effective in the economical as well as the ecological sense.
There is a large variety of possible applications. The range contains most diverse, sometimes combined, applications, whose complexity according to system concepts and temperature requirements can be very different. Possible applications are:
- Warm water supply
- Feed into local and district heating network
- Feed into industrial warm or hot water networks
- Direct solar heating of one or more processes
- Space heating in the industry commerce, agriculture and forestry
Market Overview Germany
Funding for solar process heat in Germany was explicitly introduced first in August 2012, with a grant of up to 50 % of the total investment cost, as part of the market incentive program. A steady market growth was achieved predominantly in the first two years after that amendment. More than 300 funding requests for more than 28,000 m2 of area have been granted ever since.
First, the planned solar systems were predominantly rather simple systems in a range of 20…40 m2 for smaller commerce companies, family businesses, and farms. Those, in most cases, provide better frameworks in terms of planning horizon, amortization expectations, and energy cost for investment in regenerative heat sources.
However, the dimensions of solar plants increased with time. Therefore, the required cost reduction potential is in perspective.
While in the beginning, mainly the so called Low Hanging Fruits were exploited with solar plants, e.g. for car cleaning, piglet rearing, and drying of biomass, more and more complex applications are being developed, e.g. in the sectors of bitumen processing, galvanisation, or natural gas supply.