Despite global economic troubles, the solar heating and cooling (SHC) market grew by 14% in 2010, with the installed capacity of solar collectors reaching 196 GWth. The collectors provided 162 TWh of solar thermal energy, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
‘With 162 TWh produced in 2010, solar heating and cooling is second only to wind amongst the 'new' renewables,’ says Werner Weiss, chairman of the IEA's SHC unit. ‘And while China continues to lead in total installations, Australia and Israel added more capacity per capita than any other country.’
The report features data from 55 countries, representing more than 60% of the world's population and over 90% of the global solar thermal market. The vast majority of the total 2010 capacity was in China (117.6 GWth) and Europe (36.0 GWth), which together accounted for 78.5% of the total capacity.
Most of the existing systems provide domestic hot water only (95%). In some countries, combisystems (systems that also cover part of the space heating demand) have become a major application as well, the report notes. Industrial applications, district heating and air conditioning are also all growing.
Taken together, combisystems and other applications beyond domestic hot water reached 10% of newly installed systems in 2010.
Thermosiphon (natural flow) systems are the clear market leader, accounting for 89% of the newly installed capacity in 2010 – compared with 11% of forced circulation systems, the report says. Among types of collectors installed, 78% were vacuum-tube collectors, 18% were flat-plate collectors and 4% were unglazed collectors.
‘It is often forgotten that 47% of the world's energy demand is for heating,’ Weiss notes. ‘Solar heating and cooling offers a renewable supply of thermal energy and can be applied anywhere in the world. In many regions, solar has been cost-competitive for years. People use it because it works and it is relatively cheap.’
The full report is available here.