5 million square meters of solar thermal collectors in Austria installed

Gruppenfoto vor dem Jubiläumskollektor (v.l.n.r.: Robert Kanduth, Austria Solar; Nikolaus Berlakovich, Umweltminister; Mag. Rudolf Berger, Fleischwarenfabrikant; Dr. Christian Holter, SOLID)Austria installed 5 million sqare meters of collector area in the past 35 years and wants to install 5 million more sqm in the coming 10 years. This growth is expected mainly in solar district heating and industrial process heat.

Photo in front of the jubilee collector (f.l.t.r.: Robert Kanduth, Austria Solar;
Nikolaus Berlakovich, federal environmental minister;
Rudolf Berger, meat producer; Christian Holter, SOLID)


On September 26 the Austrian Minister of Environment Nikolaus Berlakovich celebrated with the solar thermal business association Austria Solar and the meat producer Fleischwaren Berger the installation of the 5 millionth square meter of solar thermal collectors. The jubilee collector is part of a solar industrial process heat plant with 1,087m² collector area for preheating of boiler feed water and hot water preparation. It will save annually 62.500 liters of light fuel oil. Fleischwaren Berger will also be awarded the GBE green factory label.


In terms of collector area per capita Austria is only outnumbered by Cyprus and Israel. Austria needed 35 years to install 5 million sqm since the beginnings after the oil crisis in the 70s and the boom of do-it-yourself groups in the 80s. Minister Berlakovich sets ambitious goals for the next 5 million of collector area: “For the second five million square meters we only want to need 10 years. This goal is realistic as Austria is leading in large scale solar thermal plants and the potential is still enormous.”


The trade association Austria Solar has same goals and wants to push the development of the Austrian market for large scale solar thermal systems. Workshops were held with solar thermal companies, planners, banks and potential customers of solar thermal systems like food industry and district heating companies. Roger Hackstock, managing director of Austria Solar, is optimistic: “There is huge interest from heat intensive industries and district heating companies in sustainable and affordable heat generation which we can provide with solar thermal.” In the past two years over 90 solar systems with sizes between 100 and 2.000m² were awarded funding by national Klimafonds funding programme. Mid of September the third round had deadline for submission.


Also the district heating industry shows growing interest in solar thermal technology. So far it is used in Austria mainly with small biomass fired rural grids and the city of Graz is pioneer in solar district heating for large urban grids. Michael Mock, managing director of the Austrian District Heating Association FGW, says: “We just issued our position paper on solar thermal energy which clearly outlines our support for solar district heating in grids where no waste heat is available in summer months. And there is a large potential in Austria. We also observe the developments of large solar and storage systems in Denmark and are curious, if this can be an opportunity for Austrian district heating grids.”


The next event for coordination of the efforts to push the development of solar district heating in Austria will be on October 22 in Graz. The event is jointly organized by Austria Solar and SOLID for the projects SDHtake-off and SDHplus. The workshop targets utilities and one of the main topics will be the impacts of the new directives on building performance and on promotion of renewables which are currently analyzed in the IEE-project SDHplus.