Solar thermal roadmap - 500 TWh by 2030
SOLAR HEAT ADVANTAGES X3
Heat represents 50% of the final energy consumption, while electricity is only 20% and transport is 30%. With all this, the power sector and renewable electricity solutions receive more support and better conditions for deployment, while renewable heating solutions struggle to achieve their real potential because of the lack of awareness and efforts for heat decarbonisation. For example, the photovoltaic industry is expected to add 400 TWh to the electric grid by 2030. Compared with photovoltaic technology, solar heat has:
3 times higher efficiency with collectors reaching an efficiency of 70 – 80%
3 times less space needed for rooftops and on-ground installations
3 times cheaper energy storage, often integrated in the system
annual energy generation
Solar heat systems in Europe
Solar heat impact in 4 sectors
200 TWh SOLAR HEAT FOR INDUSTRIAL PROCESSES (SHIP)
A large share of the world’s industries that use low and medium temperatures in their processes are based in Europe. Many of these are multinational companies that have committed to quickly reducing CO2 emissions and are installing large solar heat systems to achieve their objectives. IEA expects solar heat to cover 11% of the industrial heat demand in 2050 at global level.
100 TWh SOLAR HEAT IN BUILDINGS
In every town in Europe, there are solar heat installers and in every country there are manufacturers. 10 million houses already have solar thermal systems installed. Adopting best practices from Cyprus and Germany, domestic hot water and part of the heating can come from solar thermal. IEA expects 1,2 billion homes globally to have installed solar heat in 2050 compared to 0,25 billion houses with photovoltaic.
100 TWh SOLAR DISTRICT HEATING (SDH)
Over 6000 cities in Europe burn fuel or waste to provide heat to their citizens. Only 200 cities use solar heat in their district heating today. In many district heat networks, solar heat backed by seasonal storage can supply close to 100% of the energy. To cover such heat demand, on average, a ground space approximately equal to local golf courses is needed.
100 TWh SAVINGS WITH ENERGY STORAGES and DIGITALISATION
The solar thermal sector has already integrated 180 GWh of energy storage in the European energy system, 20 times more than all the grid-connected batteries for electricity. Combining energy-saving when doing the solar installation with smart utilisation of the thermal storage will save 100 TWh. Seasonal heat storages used in Denmark have proven to be 200 times cheaper than the cheapest battery technology.
HOW TO SUCCEED?
Southern European countries must adopt solar heat best practices from Cyprus which has on average 1 square meter of solar collector installed per capita.
The country in Europe with the second highest share of solar thermal is Austria, showing that this technology is fit for colder climates. Other colder countries such as Germany, show how single houses and apartment buildings should be using solar heat.
All cities with district heating need to look at the examples of Denmark where summer heat is stored in seasonal storage from summer to winter, and cities not yet with district heating should consider it.
For industry, many multinational companies in Europe are now installing solar heat to replace gas, learn from them!
If it is cheaper than gas, why not go for it?
The deployment of solar heat has faced different barriers, leading to energy users not opting for solar thermal even if it would be profitable. If only profitable investments were implemented without delay, the goals of the pledge would easily be fulfilled. For cities and for industries, issues such as permitting, financing, procurement, and local planning must be addressed in order to facilitate and speed up the deployment of solutions such as solar heat, that are, strategic decisions to end the dependence on fossil fuels.
What will it cost is the wrong question!
Let’s say instead: how much will we make?
Assuming average gas price the past 3 years, 100 Euro/ton CO2, and 2% inflation, the investment of 200 billion Euro will create proceeds of over 500 billion Euro. Low, predictable energy costs will benefit European industry and reduce costs for citizens, taxpayers, and consumers.
How much will the price drop when the market grows?
IRENA has found that the price drop of solar heat due to the learning curve as the installed base increases is substantial. For Solar District Heating in Denmark, the learning rate resulted in a price drop of 18% for each doubling of the installed base. Such an impressive learning rate surpasses those of both photovoltaic and offshore wind. In addition, as solar heat volumes are still modest, prices will decrease year on year as volumes grow.