Status of Solar Heating/Cooling and Solar Buildings - 2014

Status of the Market for Solar Thermal Systems

Market Size and Trends

The French collector market totalled 190 300 m² in 2013, down 24% from 2012. All three main market segments for solar thermal systems have shown a decline in 2013. Collective systems have become the most import segment and represented 51% of the solar collector market. This particular market is down by 22% compared to 2012 and represents 97 500 m². Next in order of importance are DHW systems: down 21% to 20 500 units. Finally, combined DHW and heating systems represented only 1 100 systems (down 21%) and have effectively become a niche market (source: Dossier de presse, March 26, 2014, Uniclima).

The outlook for the 2014 market shows no signs of improvement. Collective systems for new buildings may lose more ground throughout 2014. An uptake may be expected by 2015, the year when the building regulations (RT 2012) will become stricter, which may favour collective solar systems.

The overall solar thermal market has been declining since 2009. Solar thermal systems are perceived as being too expensive to represent a competitive proposition for existing or new buildings (source: “1ere tendances 2013”, Observ’ER).

Typical Applications and Products

The typical solar thermal application in France is still the domestic hot water system in the housing and the tertiary sector. However, in terms of collector surfaces, the market for collective systems became the most important market in 2012, and remained so in 2013. The typical collector surface of these collective systems ranges from 25 to 40 m².

Solar thermal industrial applications, solar thermal air-conditioning as well as solar thermal district heating are anecdotic.

Main Market Drivers

Solar thermal systems for the existing building stock are subsidised either with a tax credit (for individual installations) or with subsidies (for collective systems). Building regulations for new buildings impose more or less a choice for renewable hot water supply. Given the high cost of solar thermal in France, combined with low electricity prices, solar thermal systems are facing fierce competition from thermodynamic water heater systems. The latter are also perceived as easier to install.

Industry

France has a solid domestic solar thermal manufacturing base. The industrial output is valued at some 255 million euros for 2012, with roughly a third of the production finding its way abroad (source: Marchés & Emplois, ADEME). The major industry players are: Viessmann, Vaillant, Giordano Industries and Clipsol.

Employment

An estimated 4 900 persons were working in the solar thermal sector in France in 2012. The four most important activities are: systems manufacturing (some 1 150 FTE), distribution (780 FTE), installation (2 000 FTE) maintenance and exploitation (700 FTE) (source: Marchés & Emplois, ADEME).

Costs

A 2013 study by EY for ADEME on the competitiveness of solar thermal systems in France shows that the costs per kWh of solar thermal energy range between 18 euro cents (new buildings) and more than 24 euro cents (existing buildings) for individual systems. Despite the important upfront investment costs, individual systems for new buildings would be competitive without subsidy to thermodynamic water heater systems.

Nevertheless, system prices are high in France which seems to deter interested prospects. An individual system with gas as a backup would cost some € 4 500 – € 6 000, compared to € 2 500 - € 3 000) for a thermodynamic water heater, or only € 400 - € 800 for an electric water heater (all prices without VAT).

Collective solar thermal systems in France are currently not competitive without subsidy.

When not taking into account any subsidies, prices need to come down by at least 30% by 2020 for individual solar thermal systems to start to become competitive against “classic”, non-renewable energy systems. However, individual solar thermal systems for existing buildings face an almost impossible challenge as costs would have to come down some 50-70% (source: EY, Analysis of the competitiveness and the development of solar thermal sector in France, 2013. Study realised for ADEME).

Other Key Topics

Following the 2013 competitiveness study, the French solar thermal industry is currently working on an action plan that will focus on the marketing of solar thermal, on the performance and the quality of solar thermal systems and which will address R&D needs. The plan is likely to be financed by the ministry of Industry.

Status of the Market for Solar Buildings

Scope

Solar air heating systems are currently being evaluated.

 

 

Market Size and Trends

N/A

Main Market Drivers

France does not specifically endorse solar buildings through its energy and building policies. Policies are generally aimed at making existing buildings more (primary) energy efficient (by improving insolation and by installing renewable energy systems when renovating) and by imposing strict primary energy consumption criteria for new buildings (typically a maximum consumption of 50 kWh/m².year). Solar thermal systems present an option to respect these criteria.

Employment

See above.

Costs

N/A

Other Key Topics

An example of promotion of solar buildings is the biennial contest for solar houses, organised by Observ’ER. A flip over publication of the 2012 results can be found at: http://www.energies-renouvelables.org/e-book_hsha_2012/. It shows photos of the fourteen distinguished projects (photovoltaic and solar thermal) in mainland France and its overseas territories.

R&D Activities

R&D Programmes

The solar thermal action plan presented above will also address R&D needs.

R&D Infrastructure

R&D Institutions
Institution Type of Institution Relevant Research Areas IEA SHC Involvement Website
CEA Public Systems, components, monitoring YES www.cea.fr
CNRS Research institute Components, systems YES www.cnrs.fr
Tecsol Private company Systems, quality, monitoring YES www.tecsol.fr
INES Public Cells, modules, systems, electricity storage, demonstration and tests www.ines-solaire.org

Actual Innovations

Research programs are done on lots of subjects : storage, collectors for heating network, solar cooling, etc.

Support Framework

Background

Most Important Public Support Measure(s) for Solar Thermal and for Solar Buildings

The current French energy policy dates from 2007 (“Grenelle law”). The government has announced in April 2014 that a new energy law will be presented before the summer of 2014.

Today, solar thermal is supported by the Government through financial incentives. Two types of financial support exist. One type of support for individual solar thermal systems and another for collective solar thermal systems.

Tax credit

This financial measure is a tax credit for homeowners and not a reduction of the tax. Therefore, people who do not pay taxes can still receive a payment. The tax credit has been revised and harmonised and is at 15-25% of eligible costs for 2014, depending on the family income and the number of energy related projects undertaken.

Renewable heat fund “Fonds chaleur”

The Heat Fund subsidizes projects for collective hot water systems in the collective housing sector, the tertiary sector and the agriculture and industry sector. The subsidy level should allow the costs of the exploitation of solar systems to be slightly below those of “classic systems”. With the RT 2012 regulation now well in place, only projects for existing buildings are eligible to the Heat Fund. Furthermore, a minimum surface of 25 m² of collectors is required for a project to be eligible. Heating and cooling solar systems are not eligible. However, some projects of these latter categories can benefit from monitoring campaigns (NTE Fund) that seek to better understand their energetic and economic potential.

Government Agencies Responsible for Solar Thermal, for Solar Building Activities

ADEME (French Environment and Energy Management Agency)

The French regions

EC, FEDER

Most Important Public Support Measure(s) for Solar Thermal and for Solar Buildings

The current French energy policy dates from 2007 (“Grenelle law”). The government has announced in April 2014 that a new energy law will be presented before the summer of 2014.

Today, solar thermal is supported by the Government through financial incentives. Two types of financial support exist. One type of support for individual solar thermal systems and another for collective solar thermal systems.

Information Resources

National Solar Associations (industry and non-industry)

  • Enerplan (solar energy professionals organisation)
  • Uniclima (the organisation of thermal, cooling and ventilation industries)
     

National Associations on Green/Solar/Sustainable Buildings

N/A

Most Important Media for Solar Thermal and Solar Buildings