Solar thermal technology gets its own conference at Intersolar 2008 in Munich

The Solar Thermal Industry Forum offers solar experts from industry,research and development a platform for the exchange of information

Based on current forecasts by the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF), the outlook is sunny for solar thermal technology in 2008, with particularly high growth expected in the Mediterranean countries. The one-day Solar Thermal Industry Forum, which will take place as part of Intersolar 2008 in Munich for the first time, will focus on the development of international markets as well as technological innovations in the industry. The Forum is co-organized by the University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Thermodynamics and Thermal Engineering (ITW) in cooperation with Solar- und Wärmetechnik Stuttgart (SWT), and is supported by the German Solar Industry Association (BSW Solar).

Sunshine after rain – Germany continues to lead the way
After the tremendous growth of 58 percent in the solar thermal market in 2006, sales and newly installed capacity had recently declined in Germany. Nevertheless, Germany is still the market leader in the European market with a collector area of around nine million square meters, which equates to an installed capacity of approximately 6500 megawatts. Thus, 2007 saw the addition of new solar collectors with a total collector area of almost one million square meters or 700 MW of capacity. In spite of the slight downturn, sales reached around 900 million EUR. Solar thermal technology is also very promising in terms of the labor market – the industry currently employs around 15,000 people in Germany.

The trend across Europe is also positive: more and more new markets are emerging for solar thermal technology. Especially in Spain, France and Italy, solar thermal technology is seeing unprecedented growth due to the high oil price and the desire for independence from fossil fuels, and also as a result of statutory regulations: in each of these young markets alone, at least 210,000 square meters of solar thermal collectors were installed in 2007.

“Solar thermal technology is making giant strides. Manufacturers, suppliers and service providers from the solar thermal industry need a platform for the regular exchange of information. The annual Solar Thermal Industry Forum fits the bill perfectly“, says Gerhard Stryi-Hipp, Managing Director of the German Solar Industry Association (BSW Solar) and supporter of the Forum. Large-scale solar thermal installations and the multiple use of solar heated water are particularly pronounced technological trends in the solar thermal industry: solar combi-systems use solar energy to produce hot water and generate heat for heating purposes. Relatively small combi-systems with a collector area of between 10 and 15 square meters take up hardly any space but still contribute up to a third of the total heating requirements for a detached family house. In houses with average insulation, this leads to a saving of up to 30 percent on normal heating costs.

Top themes at Solar Thermal Industry Forum
The range of themes at the Solar Thermal Industry Forum will cover every aspect of solar thermal power generation. The opening session, featuring an overview of current developments in the global and European solar thermal market, will be followed by various events addressing the main themes of the Forum, including

* Innovative collector technologies such as plastic collectors and collectors for higher application temperature ranges

* Manufacturing innovations such as laser welding in conjunction with aluminum absorbers

* Innovative storage technologies such as new equipment for thermal layered loading and unloading as well as thermochemical heat storage

* Presentation of current projects for a solar local heat supply in conjunction with seasonal storage

* European and global markets, including the solar thermal markets in France, Spain, Italy and China

* Developments in the area of standardization and certification, such as the Solar Keymark and the development of European standards as well as energy labeling

* Current trends in the area of solar thermal power plants

The Solar Thermal Industry Forum is just as relevant to component manufacturers and planners as it is to marketing professionals and experts from the field of science and research.

The European solar thermal industry’s annual get-together
These and other developments in the solar thermal industry will be addressed at the Solar Thermal Industry Forum. After the launch event in 2008, future Forums will take place annually as part of the Intersolar trade fair in Munich. Horst Dufner, Project Manager of organizer Solar Promotion GmbH, sees this as a logical consequence of the industry’s development: “With the internationalization of the industry and the constant growth in international exhibitors and visitors in the field of solar thermal technology at Intersolar, this step seems almost overdue. We look forward to further consolidating the Forum as a top-class event for the solar thermal industry“.


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