2018 brought again the European solar heating and cooling sector back to the growth path, with a 7.8 percent increase of year-on-year sales. The installed capacity during 2018 experienced an increase of 2.4 percent, that accounts for 1.5 GWth, corresponding to 2.15 million square meters of solar thermal collectors, bringing the total installed capacity in Europe above the 36 GWth mark.
Two years ahead of the 2020 milestone, with an estimated 10.1 million installed systems, solar thermal contributes to make millions of Europeans heat prosumers active in the energy transition. The estimated total thermal energy generation of solar heating and cooling systems operating in Europe would be enough to supply the entire annual heat demand of both Cyprus and Estonia together.
The solar heating and cooling sector achieved a combined turnover of 1.85 billion euros in 2018, employing approximately 18 800 people. The most impressive development was observed in Poland (+179 percent), given the success of programs addressing air quality in cities and supporting the reduction of harmful emissions. The Danish market grew 77 percent thanks to the conclusion of ten large solar district heating projects during 2018.
The German market is still the largest in Europe, representing 26.7 percent of the total, even though it has been dropping over the last years due to persistent low fossil fuel prices, lack of sufficient impulses stemming from political measures and increasing competition from other renewable technologies.
Countries such as Greece, Spain or Portugal grew between 2 and 4 percent while Cyprus led the way with 14 percent increase. Cyprus is also the foremost country in terms of total installed capacity per capita, with 0.6 kWth installed per Cypriot (approximately 0.85 m2 of solar thermal collectors).
In terms of consistent market growth, the biggest accolade goes to Greece, which grew for the 9th year in a row. This is also due to an increased competition among the Greek solar thermal manufacturers and the capacity to reduce product costs. In this market, solar water heaters can reach prices as low as 285 euros per kWth (including energy storage) in retailers.
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