As early as the 1980s, the use of thermal solar energy experienced a first boom in the area of water heating and the heating of swimming pools. At the beginning of the 1990ies it was possible to develop a considerable market in the field of solar combi systems for hot water and space heating. In the period between the year 2002 and 2009 the solar thermal market grew significantly and reached the peak in 2009 due to rising oil prices but also due to new applications in the multifamily house sector, the tourism sector as well as new applications in solar assisted district heating and industrial process heat.
After the phase of massive growth until 2009, the domestic market has been declining for more than twelve years. This development is not only observed in Austria, but with a few exceptions also in most European countries. In 2021, the Austrian domestic market again recorded a decline of 7 % compared to 2020.
Market development of solar thermal collectors in Austria until 2021, Source: AEE INTEC
By the end of the year 2021 approx. 4.8 million m² of solar thermal collectors were in operation. This corresponds to an installed thermal capacity of 3.3 GWth. The solar yield of the solar thermal systems in operation is equal to 2,131 GWhth. The avoided CO2-emissions are 369,917 tons.
In 2021 a total of 70,410 m² solar thermal collectors were installed, which corresponds to an installed thermal capacity of 49.3 MWth as the figure above shows.
The export share of thermal collectors increased from 84 % in 2020 to 92 % in 2021. In 2021, after 12 years of decline, the area of exported collectors also increased for the first time, from 344,844 m² in 2020 to 462,223 m² in 2021. The turnover of the Austrian solar thermal industry was estimated at 147,6 million Euros for the year 2021. Therefore approx. 1,200 full-time jobs can be numbered in the solar thermal business.