Solar thermal market remains resiliant in tough times

At Intersolar 2011 yesterday, the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) released the latest market statistics for the 27 EU member states and Switzerland. Although the European solar thermal market has again experienced an overall decrease in 2010, it still remains above its 2007 level with a total of 2 586 MWth of newly installed capacity.
Solar thermal market remains resiliant in tough times

ESTIF has revealed details of its new report entitled “Solar Thermal Markets in Europe – Trends and Market Statistics 2010”. This year’s market statistics edition provides once again a detailed overview of single markets and trends in the European solar thermal sector with charts and analyses; as well as a detachable map showing the European data at a glance. There is also a two-page focus on the Renewable Energy Sources Directive explaining the legislative framework and the different National Renewable Energy Actions Plans.

Development of European solar thermal market

“After the boom year of 2008, we have recorded a decrease for the second consecutive year,” said Robin Welling, ESTIF President. He added: “The solar thermal industry has experienced the full impact of the 2008 financial crisis as the construction sector has been particularly affected by the economic recession that followed. We expected to derive some benefit from the combined implementation of the binding renewable targets and higher energy performance standards – but this process is only beginning!”

The German market, while still the largest in Europe, has dropped by nearly 29% in 2010; it is now almost back to its 2007 level, with 805 MWth of newly installed capacity (1,150,000 m²). The other main markets, such as Italy, Spain, Austria, France and Greece (between 200,000 and 500,000 m² of newly installed capacity), have behaved very differently in 2010. While both the Greek and Italian markets increased slightly with the Italian market confirming its 2009 level (around 500,000 m²), other markets such as Austria, Spain and France suffered a decline; the second year in a row for the French market.

Shares of the EU market

Some developing markets, still below 200,000 m² but above 50,000 m², grew a total of 8.8%. This group consists of Portugal, Poland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Denmark and the United Kingdom. However, their combined increase of 40,000 m² does not quite compensate for the decrease recorded in larger markets.

According to Xavier Noyon, ESTIF Secretary General, “one of the factors contributing to this downturn is the lack or unpredictable nature of incentive frameworks. The resulting stop-go cycles and deferred decisions have adversely affected sales and undermined investor and consumer confidence. However, there is ground for optimism: the analysis of the consolidated National Renewable Energy Action Plans, submitted by each 27 member state earlier in the year, reveals that over the next decade the share of solar thermal should rise by 15% per annum. Let’s hope that this does materialize in the market!”

There will be further opportunities to discuss market trends and statistics at the 5th European Solar Thermal Energy Conference which takes place in Marseille on 20 and 21 October 2011, and where the focus will be on Southern European and Mediterranean markets.

ESTIF is the voice of the solar thermal industry, actively promoting the use of solar thermal technology for renewable heating and cooling in Europe. With around 100 members from 19 European countries, ESTIF represents the entire supply chain.

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