Status of Solar Heating/Cooling and Solar Buildings - 2013

Status of the Market for Solar Thermal Systems

Market Size and Trends

Solar thermal systems in Spain consist mainly of water-based flat plate collectors. According to 2009 data a total capacity of 1722 MWth (2460000 m2) was installed. The former capacity corresponds mainly to flat plate collectors (1540.4 MWth, 2200500 m2) with a little share of unglazed (85.4 MWth, 122000 m2) collectors and evacuated tube collectors (96.3 MWth, 137500 m2). During 2010 a capacity of 243.6 MWth (348000 m2) was added to the overall system. The share for the newly added capacity corresponds to flat plate collectors (220.9 MWth, 315500 m2), unglazed (7.7 MWth, 11000 m2) and evacuated tube collectors (15.1 MWth, 21500 m2).

Typical Applications and Products

The current primary application is for domestic hot water, with a share of more than 85% of the total installed capacity in 2010 (25% single family houses, 55% multiple family houses, 5% tourism sector and 3% in the public sector). Solar combi systems are also present (4% for single family houses and 5% for multiple family houses). Finally, applications on solar cooling, solar district heating systems and solar heat for industrial processes cover the smallest part of the new installations.

Main Market Drivers

Since 2006, the Spanish Technical Building Code imposes the coverage of a portion of DHW in every building. This code is to be revised to include other forms of renewable heat and the inclusion of district heating and cooling networks.

In the Spanish Renewable Plan until 2020 it is also considered to develop some public incentives to the commercialisation of renewable heat.


It is estimated that the solar thermal industry in Spain comprises nearly 100 companies of different sizes. Nearly 40% of them are manufacturers. For the most common solar thermal applications the typical marketing is two-tiered: from manufacturers to installers and from installers to end-users.

Status of the Market for Solar Buildings


Solar technologies in buildings are considered in the Spanish Technical Building Code in two different ways. For every new building a demand limitation is imposed through simulation taking into account passive solar issues. In a second stage, the energy footprint is calculated, where active solar systems are directly involved in the simulation.

Main Market Drivers

The Spanish Technical Building Code imposes a minimum DHW contribution from 2006 and it will be revised in the upcoming years to include district heating and cooling system characteristics.

The Spanish Renewable Plan until 2020 will establish economic support for renewable heat, which includes solar thermal. The aim of this plan is to multiply by ten the energy coming from solar thermal in 2020 with respect to the 2005 values.

R&D Activities

R&D Programmes

A specific R&D programme for solar buildings does not exist. Instead there are different programmes within a global scheme that have R&D on solar thermal and solar buildings included into their main objectives. The most important programmes are included on the National Scientific Research, Development and Technological Innovation Plan (National R&D&I plan). The Work Programme is prepared every year, so the main objectives regarding solar thermal are highly sensitive to variations on the current Science and Technology policy.

This plan is currently implemented by the Competiveness and Economy Ministry, and can be found under the “Plan Estatal de Investigación Científica y Técnica y de Innovación” section.

R&D Infrastructure

R&D Institutions
Institution Type of Institution Relevant Research Areas IEA SHC Involvement Website
CIEMAT Public Research Centre All related to energy and environment issues Yes

Actual Innovations

Solar thermal use in Spain varies greatly and includes almost every type of system. In the 2005 – 2011 period promotion of solar cooling was done through demonstration projects. At present the principal innovation is being introduced in the large systems area.

Recently it has been approved, under the National Scientific Research, Development and Technological Innovation Plan (National R&D&I plan), a large R&D Project on Smart Cities, taking into account mains topics on solar thermal and solar buildings.

This cooperative project gathers public and private entities, such as research centres and large companies, around the objective of developing systems that cut cities' energy demand to a high extent, new systems of distributed micro and mini-generation with embedded renewable energies, and holistic control innovative systems (business intelligent).

These R&D activities will be developed and implemented in a pilot district to show technical and economic viability of this kind of initiative and to act as a demonstration project.

Support Framework


The main strategic plan regarding solar thermal is performed by the Institute for Energy Savings and Diversification (Instituto para la Diversificación y el Ahorro de la Energía, IDAE). It is included in the National renewable plan (actually developed until 2020 and called “Plan de Energías Renovables 2011-2020”).

Government Agencies Responsible for Solar Thermal, for Solar Building Activities

The most important support measure for solar buildings comes from the Spanish Building Technical Code. Building energy labelling will be mandatory starting the 1st of June of 2013 for all buildings to be sold or rented.

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

    CIEMAT holds its own renewable energy portal, where information for solar thermal can be found.