Status of Solar Heating/Cooling and Solar Buildings - 2015

Status of the Market for Solar Thermal Systems

Market Size and Trends

The market for solar heating installations in Sweden grew rapidly until around 2006. After that, the overall market started to decline. This can be explained by low energy prices but also by competition from solar electricity (PV). In many respects the two markets are competing for the same customers. Most companies that currently sell solar heating systems also sell solar electricity systems. The two segments can be characterized as follows:

- Solar electricity: Great demand, non-existent margins

- Solar heating: Very low demand, large margins in the installation stage

Recent years the price of flat plate collectors has dropped while the price of vacuum tube collectors seems to have risen somewhat. One explanation for this may be that most of the less established companies engaged in "garage imports" from China have now disappeared, while those companies working with high-quality vacuum tubes are left. The price decrease of flat plate collectors is mainly explained by the price developments in Europe.

(Source: Solar heating statistics, report to the Swedish Energy Agency (in Swedish), Peter Kovacs, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, 2014-12-11)

Typical Applications and Products

Typical applications in Sweden are combined domestic hot water and space heating systems in single-family houses, multi-family houses, often in combination with solid wood boilers (i.e., wood chips, logs, pellets, and briquettes).  You can also find solar heating in small district heating systems, and combinations of solar collectors and heat pumps in, for example, single-family houses.

Main Market Drivers

Some solar energy systems may be initiated due to the national building regulation, which includes solar heat as an option to meet the requirements.  Key barriers are the low price for alternative energy supply and a lack of information on solar heating systems among actors and consumers.  A main competitor in the small systems segment are heat pumps, and for large systems district heating (including combined heat and power generation) based on, for example, solid wood fuels, municipal solid waste, and industrial waste heat.


In Sweden, there are a few solar collector manufacturing companies, which cover about 50% of the domestic collector market, and one single absorber manufacturer that exports. Different approaches are used to market the systems, but mainly this is done via the installers.


Estimates from the Swedish Solar Energy Association suggest that there are around 200 jobs (full time equivalent) in Sweden related to the solar thermal industry, including installation and related service (testing, etc.). The assumption is that 100 m2 of collectors installed will create 1 job.


The costs for small systems are in the range around 5,000 Euro (5 m2, 300 litre) and the large systems are in the range from 300 - 1,000 Euro/m2 (excluding VAT) depending on size.

Other Key Topics

A key topic for the industry is the absence of governmental subsidies for solar heating systems.  Another key issue is the competition with heat pumps and district heating.

Status of the Market for Solar Buildings


The focus in Sweden is on low-energy buildings and nearly zero-energy buildings. There is no separate focus on solar buildings, however, several low-energy or nearly zero-energy buildings are equipped with solar energy sypply systems.

Market Size and Trends


Main Market Drivers

The main drivers for low energy buildings are local policies of cities and companies who want to reach ambitious energy and environmental targets.




There is no separate information on solar buildings.

R&D Activities

R&D Programmes

No national R&D program is entirely and specifically devoted towards solar thermal energy.

There is, however, a broad research and innovation program within the energy and construction sector where solar heating projects can be funded. The Swedish Energy Agency runs the program in collaboration with various partners in the construction sector.

R&D Infrastructure

R&D Institutions
Institution Type of Institution Relevant Research Areas IEA SHC Involvement Website
Linnaeus University Natural Sciences Polymeric solar heating systems Task 39
Mälardalen University Energy Technology Solar collectors etc. Task 40
Uppsala University Solid State Physics Solar collectors etc. Task 40
Lund university Energy and Building Design Building design, architecture Task 41
Royal Institute of Technology Energy Technology PCM storage Task 42
SP Swedish Technical Research Institute Energy Technology Testing and certification Task 43
Dalarna University Solar Energy Research Center Combisystems Task 44
Chalmers (Uni Tech) Building Services Engineering Solar systems, small and large Preparation of a few tasks, e.g. Task 45
Mälardalen University Energy Technology Solar collectors etc Task 53
Lund university Energy and Building Design Building design, archtecture Task 50, Task 51

Actual Innovations

Some innovative hybrid collectors have been developed in Sweden.

Support Framework


Energy goals/targets for Sweden are stated in the Government’s integrated climate and energy policy bills from 2009. The goals include energy policy targets by 2020, including a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, at least 50% use of renewable energy, and a 20% more efficient energy end use. Also, the use of fossil fuels for space and tap water heating is to be phased out by 2020.

There are no specific and quantitative energy policy targets directly related to solar heating (nor for solar PV).

At the same time, there are various policies (national, local and commercial) and measures that can influence the development and implementation of solar thermal systems.

Government Agencies Responsible for Solar Thermal, for Solar Building Activities

The main agency is the Swedish Energy Agency,

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

There are no direct support measures for solar heating, but there are several indirect measures like taxes on fossil fuels and energy efficiency requirements for new buildings.

For solar buildings, the main incentive can still be considered to be local energy and climate policies.

A generally applicable tax deduction is possible for all refurbishments, rebuilding, and add-on building, including solar thermal systems. This subsidy can give up to a 50% reduction in labor costs for installation and connection of solar panels and associated equipment. Labor costs are generally 30% of the total investment cost, including VAT. The tax reduction is then half of this amount.

Information Resources

National Solar Associations (industry and non-industry)

National Associations on Green/Solar/Sustainable Buildings

Most Important Media for Solar Thermal and Solar Buildings

  • Energimagasinet 
    Monthly magazine that covers economics and technology relating to production, distribution and use of electricity, heat and steam nationally and internationally. The magazine is aimed primarily at decision-makers and other energy experts in the energy business, industry, municipalities, government agencies and universities. Their main target group includes professionals in the energy business, energy-intensive industries, energy advisors, consultants, etc. The Solar Energy Association of Sweden (SEAS) has a co-operation with the journal.
  • Energi & Miljö
    Monthly magazine that informs on the development of heating, ventilation, indoor climate, plumbing, refrigeration and energy technology. Readers consists of industrial executives, consulting engineers, building services contractors, wholesalers, builders, real estate administrators and employees at official institutions and companies, governmental and municipal authorities.
  • Ny Teknik
    Sweden’s largest technology and IT newspaper and publishes technolgy news, product trends and innovations. The newspaper reports every week on growing sectors such as IT, telecom, energy, biotechnology and how new technology is being used within industry.
  • Byggindustrin (The Construction Industry) 
    Industry's leading news magazine and is published every week. The newspaper includes reports and articles on technology, housing, building materials, finance, and architecture.
  • Energivärlden
    The Swedish Energy Agency's magazine and is published five times a year. It is aimed at anyone interested in energy issues.