Status of Solar Heating/Cooling and Solar Buildings - 2012

Status of the Market for Solar Thermal Systems

Market Size and Trends

After the record year of 2008, the German market for solar collectors experienced a dramatic decline. It was only in 2011 that the market began to grow significantly once again --approximately 1.27 million m² of new solar heat collectors were installed, a 10% increase in comparison with the previous year. The total collector area installed was around 15.3 million m² with a thermal capacity of 10.6 GW.  In 2012 there were approximately 1.2 million m² of new installations, which was about 5% less than in 2011.

Over 95% of the solar thermal market is from collector arrays on single- or two-family houses with average systems of 6 m² for water systems and 12 m² for systems that support the central heating system.

An increasing market is expected for solar process heating and solar district heating grids as funding conditions have improved since August 2012. According to BSW-Solar´s “Solar Thermal Roadmap,” which was published in 2012, the solar thermal industry must construct increasingly larger plants. Industry in Germany represents a very promising application area for solar thermal technology, since it accounts for 27% of the total final energy consumption and uses 74% of its energy as thermal energy, mainly with temperature < 250°C.

An ambitious expansion goal of the German Solar Heating Roadmap is to increase the share of solar heating in the requirements and regulations for households from around 1% in 2010 to approximately 7.8% in 2030. In German industry (heat requirement up to 100°C) the solar fraction shall rise from nearly 0% today to 10% in 2030.

New and successful applications are solar active houses called “Sonnenhäuser,” which have a high solar fraction between 50 -80% for single- family houses but also for multi-family-houses. More than 1,200 “sun-houses” have been built in Germany, particularlyin the southern part. The typical collector area of these houses is 30-60 m² and a large water storage tank of 6-10 m³.  To achieve almost 100% renewable heating supply an increasing number of homeowners are using pelletboilers to cover the remaining demand.

Typical Applications and Products

The most common applications are small systems for domestic hot water and space heating for one- and two-family houses. Approximately 50% of new installed systems are for space heating systems and 80% of the new installationas are combined with new heating systems.

A new application area with great potential, in addition to solar process heat for industrial applications and solar district heating, is the use of solar heat to cool buildings.  In the last two years several large solar thermal systems were installed as demonstration projects:

  • The largest solar thermal system in Germany has a 7,500m² collector area for district heating and a 39,000m³ seasonal borehole thermal energy storage in Crailsheim.
  • The private Hofmühl-brewery in Eichstätt in Bavaria installed 835 m² vacuum tube collectors for solar process heating.
  • In Ennepetal in North Rhine-Westphalia a pilot plant using 12 parabolic trough collectors (P3-project) with a total area of 108 m² produces directly saturated steam from the receivers with a temperature of around 140°C and 4 bar. The benefit of steam is that it can be introduced directly into the industrial process without a heat exchanger.

Main Market Drivers

The main market drivers in Germany are the European and national building regulations for nearly zero emission buildings in 2020. In Germany this is being achieved through regulation -- the Energy Savings Regulation (EnEV) to reduce energy consumption and the Renewable Energies Heat act (EEWärmeG) to use renewable energy.

The main barriers are higher costs of solar thermal systems in comparison with PV and heat pumps for heating and cooling and better funding conditions for PV or combined heat and  for district heating powerplants (feed-in-tariffs)


The German solar thermal industry has a turnover of 1 billion € and employs around 20,000 people. According to BSW-Solar´s strategy document “Solar Thermal Roadmap,” it could have a turnover of around 2.3 billion € in 2020 and could even rise to 3.1 billion € by 2030. This will only be the case, however, if system prices fall by 14% by 2020 and by 43% by 2030.

There are 145 medium-sized manufacturers and suppliers, as well as 86 distributers of solar thermal components. The export quota was found to be greater than 50%. The German value creation rate is 75%.

Solar thermal systems are marketed tripartite, and this in comparison to PV, is one of the reasons that the consumer prices are much higher than the manufacturing costs.


The German solar thermal industry employed around 20,000 people, including installers and distributers.


The costs for solar thermal energy in Germany is between 10-15 ct/ kWh. The specific system costs run between 600-1.100 €/m².

Costs differ between small and large solar systems as well as between systems for DHW and space heating or large systems. With seasonal storage, the solar heating costs range from 17- 30 ct/kWh. This is approximately double the price of gas. The goal of the German Solar Heating Roadmap is to reduce the costs of a solar heating system by a total of 43% by the year 2030. The steps leading to that goal can be found in the area of simplifying assembly and optimizing complete systems including heat generators as well as new materials for collectors and storage systems.

Other Key Topics

Other key topics for solar thermal energy are installation through pre-configured and possibly standardized and simplified quick assembly of the components to reduce installation costs and installation errors and tax incentives for building owners.

Status of the Market for Solar Buildings


In Germany, all types of solar technologies for buildings are subject to research, demonstration and market activities. Continuity in national funding schemes for R&D is guaranteed by the 6th Energy research programme of the German government, which started in 2011.

The main activities for solar buildings are funded in the sub-program EnOB (Energy Optimized Building ). The EnOB research projects involve buildings that have minimal primary energy requirements, high occupant comfort, moderate investment costs and significantly reduced operating costs. With regards to the “Energiewende,” initiated by the German Government in 2011, the main objective is to reduce primary energy demand by 50% and to generate most of the demand on site. The grid friendly net-zero-energy-building is a main focus in EnOB. The goal requires a proper building design, the integration of different new advanced technologies and the optimized control of the heating system. (

The solar active house concept means an efficient use of solar heat. In a solar active house more than half of the heat (50-80%) required for water and space heating is provided by the sun over the course of a year. The house is designed to achieve minimum energy consumption through optimal thermal insulation (Passiv Haus) and a generously dimensioned solar system. The maximum annual heating demand of a solar active house is 45 kWh/m² and the annual primary energy demand is less than 15 kWh/m². These solar active houses have a large collector area between 30-60 m² and a large water storage tank of 6 to 10 m³ (for single-family- houses).

By the end of 2012, more than 1,200 solar active houses, so-called solar houses, had been built in Germany.

Another concept of solar active houses, the so-called “EffizienzhausPlus”- houses, annually produce more energy than they use. Grid connected PV provides electricity for a heat pump based heating system and power for appliances. The main problem is the higher primary energy demand as this concept needs electricity from the grid in wintertime. By the end of 2012 approximately 10 of these houses had been built.

Market Size and Trends

Main Market Drivers

Again, the main market drivers are the European building regulations until 2020 and national the German Energy Savings Ordinance (EnEV).

PV also is a barrier for solar thermal technology on buildings. Economically very attractive feed-in-tariffs for PV installation cannot be achieved through the public funding for solar thermal systems.


There is no information available at thsi time. 


Since 2009 there is a new subject of focus, “Economic viability”, within the accompanying research on the EnOB model projects. Two academic groups at the Universities of Wuppertal and Karlsruhe are dealing with the interrelationships between construction costs, building usage costs and lifecycle costs, as well as the associated optimization potential in regards to minimized CO2 emissions.

R&D Activities

R&D Programmes

R&D for solar thermal and for solar buildings is part of the 6th Energy research Programme of the German Federal Government from July 2011 (

Solar buildings and energy efficiency for buildings and storage is included in the sub-program ENOB ( funded by the Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology.  The annual budget is approximately 30 million €.

Active solar thermal systems for solar thermal applications such as heating and cooling storages are funded by the Federal Ministry for Environment; Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in the sub-program for renewable energy. (  The annual budget for low temperature solar thermal systems is approximately 6-10 million €.

R&D Infrastructure

R&D Institutions
Institution Type of Institution Relevant Research Areas IEA SHC Involvement Website
ISE Freiburg Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft PV, Solar Thermal systems; Solar buildings Yes
IBP Stuttgart Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Building research, low energy buildings day lighting Yes
DLR Köln Helmholtz-Institut Solar thermal concentrator technologies Yes
ISFH Hameln Solar Institute of the State PV, Active and passive solar thermal Yes
ZAE, Bayern Garching Solar Institute of the State Active solar thermal Thermal energy storage Yes
Universität Stuttgart - ITW University Active solar thermal, Thermal Energy storage Yes
Universität Kassel University Solar process heat, Thermal energy storage, Monitiring Yes
TU Braunschweig University Solar buildings, Active solar thermalsystems, Thermal energy Storage Yes

Actual Innovations

Market: Solar water and space heating, large solar systems > 100 m² collector area, low energy buildings, solar houses with solar fraction > 50%, are available but not yet feasible.

Demonstration: Solar process heating, large solar thermal systems with seasonal and multifunctional storages.

Technology for solar active houses is available based on the Passiv Haus concept; PVT-systems, smart solar thermal grids, solar thermal absorption cooling for small and medium outputs, combined solar- CHP- systems.

Concentrating collector systems for process heating and cooling (PTC, Fresnel), solar facades, intelligent control systems for solar buildings.

Research: Advanced thermal storages with higher storage capacity (PCM/PCS, TCM), PVT-systems with optimized heat and power, new collector and storage materials, cost reduction systems and installation, system integration for solar process heat, and flat-plate-collectors with higher efficiency (low-e).  Actual call on storage technologies will cover these topics.

Support Framework


Energiewende stands for a drastic transformation of the energy system. The goal of reducing CO2 emissions by at least 80% by the year 2050 relative to 1990 levels can only be reached if a clear shift to renewable energy sources in the heating sector combined with a reduction of the energy demand occurs. The goals are part of the German Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV) and the German Renewable Energies Heat Act (EEWärmeG).

Solar heating is by far the most natural and sustainable form of heat production. Solar heating should be an integral part of the heat supply system in the majority of residential buildings. In the area of industrial process heat, solar heating contributes significantly to reducing the energy costs of companies. The strategic goal of the German Solar Heating Roadmap of the BSW-Solar is to achieve tremendous growth up to the year 2020 and then a breakthrough by 2030.

Government Agencies Responsible for Solar Thermal, for Solar Building Activities

The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) coordinates energy research in good cooperation with Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Project Management Jülich (PtJ) supports its clients in the German Federal Government and the federal states as well as the European Commission in implementing their research policy goals with a focus on project funding. This includes SHC on advanced new concepts and technologies toimprove the energy efficiency and lower the specific primary energy demand of buildings in R&D projects for energy efficient and solar buildings and active solar thermal systems and thermal energy storages.

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

The most important support for solar thermal systems is the German Market Incentive Programme (MAP) for renewable heat. The funding depends on solar yield and quality assurance (Solar keymark). Since the middle of August 2012, the funding rates increased for solar thermal systems, especially for solar process heat and solar district heating.

Tax incentives for building owners are currently lacking.

Information Resources

National Solar Associations (industry and non-industry)

The solar industry is represented in different associations:

  • German Renewable Energy Association (BEE)
  • German Solar Industry Association (BSW)
  • German Industry Association of House-,Energy-and Environment Technologies (BDH)

For research, the Renewable Energy Research Association (FVEE) ( and the German Solar Thermal Technology Platform (DSTTP) (www. are very important actors.

National Associations on Green/Solar/Sustainable Buildings

The German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB – Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen e.V.) was founded in 2007 by 16 initiators from various subject areas within the construction and real estate sectors. Their goal is to promote sustainable and economically efficient building even more strongly in the future (

Most Important Media for Solar Thermal and Solar Buildings

The most important source for information and dissemination of research projects in solar thermal and solar buildings is BINE- Information Service “Bürgerinformation Neue Energietechniken” (BINE), ( supported by BMWi.