Germany is Europe’s largest solar thermal market. It has doubled in size since 2004 and accounted for 13 million sq.m. of solar thermal collectors with a thermal capacity of 9 GWth in 2009. After achieving a record expansion by 1.9 million sq.m. newly installed solar thermal systems in 2008, Germany installed another 1.7 million sq.m. in 2009, despite the worldwide financial crisis.
The driving force behind Germany’s solar thermal sector is the “Act on the Promotion of Renewable Energies in the Heat Sector” (EEWärmeG), which requires owners of new buildings to cover a certain share of their thermal energy demand with renewable energies. A market incentive program (MAP), a tool to promote renewable energies, was put on hold in May 2010 due to budgetary constraints. This created uncertainty in the industry and dampened private as well as public investment. Whether the MAP will be revived remains questionable.
Overview of the Solar Thermal Industry in Germany
• 4.3% of the total thermal energy created from renewable energy sources comes from solar thermal systems
• 9 GWth total installed solar thermal power in 2009 on roughly 13 million sq.m. of solar panels: 38% of the European market and record growth of 1.9 GWth in 2008
• EUR 1.2 billion sales in 2009 (including system producers, R&D and system service providers)
• EUR 1,350 million were invested in R&D in 2009
• 5,000 companies in the solar thermal industry, employing 20,000
• 66% of the German collector demand is supplied by the domestic industry, the other 33% imported
• 40 solar cooling systems are located in Germany, 1/5 of all European projects R&D projects in this area
By Andrea Stahl, Benjamin Thies