The market in Poland, Greece and Spain is growing, while new thermal sensor installations are stagnating at the two leaders in the sector: Germany and Italy.
After a decade of modest and slow progress, European solar thermal energy has been shaken: in 2018, the sector grew by 8.4% compared to the previous year, covering 2.2 million m2 of surface with new sensors. This means that at the end of last year there was a total of 53 million m2 of solar panels installed in 28 Member States for a cumulative power of around 37,000 MWth.
The figures belong to the 2019 barometer published by Eurobserv’ER, a consortium specializing in the control of renewable energies in the European Union. The document analyzes the progress of states separately and compares them with each other. This shows that the European market is undergoing a transformation: the historical solar thermal countries, namely Germany and Italy, are experiencing stagnation, with an annual growth factor practically zero.
France, for its part, leads with growth of 27.4%, followed by countries like Poland, Greece and Spain, respectively, with increases of 2.5, 4 and 2% in the area covered by solar collectors.
According to the consortium, the 2018 data is good for the sector, but loses momentum when analyzed in perspective with key EU targets. For Eurobserv’ER, in fact, even if the upward trends continue in 2019 and 2020, the delay accumulated in recent years by European solar thermal energy will not allow EU countries to achieve the objectives set. for the end of the decade.
The main obstacle to the development of the sector, according to the 2019 barometer, is represented by the initial investment.
Despite very competitive production costs, equivalent to 2 euro cents per kWh for the production of domestic hot water in domestic solar thermal installations, investments in equipment remain a brake on market development. However, the consortium is convinced that, like photovoltaic energy, solar thermal energy still has significant room for growth at the residential and industrial level. In the most ambitious scenario of European renewable energies by 2030 (where clean sources would reach 34% of consumption), the contribution of solar thermal energy would be 6.2%.