Status of Solar Heating/Cooling and Solar Buildings - 2020

Status of the Market for Solar Thermal Systems

Market Size and Trends

The excellent solar energy availability in Portugal (between 1,740 kWh/(m2 year) in the South and 1,430 kWh/(m2year) in the North for solar radiation in the horizontal), gives Portugal the opportunity to decrease its traditional dependency on energy imports. The imports are coming down in the last years mainly due to wind energy contribution, but also due to a combined contribution of energy efficiency measures and other renewable energy sources, such as large hydro, biomass and also solar. Since 2010, the dependency of the country in conventional energy imports is below 80%. It reached a minimum in 2014 (70,5%) and but in 2017 it reached 77.7% (General Direction of Energy [1]).

The large solar resource has always been and incentive to the use of solar thermal collectors and systems, which was initiated in the 1970s. Over the years, the public policies gave mainly fiscal incentives to the installation of solar thermal systems for Domestic Hot Water preparation. Despite these incentives, the total collector area installed until 2000 was 219,500 m2 [2].

In the first decade of this century, public policies were implemented to profit from this resource, but imposing the “quality” paradigm in the technology and system installation services. In 2001, a programme called “Solar hot water for Portugal” [3] was implemented, and it introduced the following certification schemes:

  1. for solar thermal collectors and systems, in a very similar way to Solar Keymark, which was also implemented at the same time at the European level;
  2. for installers of solar collectors and systems.

In 2002, the Directive 2002/91/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the energy performance of buildings[4], was published and the work of transposition to the Portuguese law was initiated. Benefiting from the work performed in the frame of the programme “Solar Hot water for Portugal”, the transposition of the directive introduced the obligation of use of solar thermal collectors for hot water preparation in new buildings and large renovations. This obligation was accompanied by the following criteria: only solar thermal systems with certified collectors, installed by certified installers and having six years guarantee, could be accepted in the framework of this obligation.

These policies were important for the growth of the solar thermal market. Some fiscal incentives also supported the growth of the market. Fiscal incentives were directed to families with deduction in the individual income tax and to corporate income tax (during a few years a very beneficial condition was possible: amortization of investment in renewable energies could be done in four years).

In 2009, a strong incentive program ( busted the growth of the market specially in the domestic sector (the price of solar thermal systems for family houses could be acquired with a reduction in price from 30% to 60% depending on the typology and size of the system). Deduction in individual income tax could also be applied. In 2010, the incentive was directed to the social-service sector, but the financial crisis stopped this incentive as well as the fiscal incentives).

Statistics on the number of collectors installed are not available since 2016. In that year, the installed collector area was around 1.2 million m2 of collectors, mainly in the domestic sector.This puts the Portuguese market on a modest place within European countries (<200,000 m2 annual), although with average installed capacity per 1,000 inhabitants of 74.7kWth when European average is of 70.7 (values for 2018 according to “Solar Thermal Markets in Europe - Trends and Market Statistics 2018, ESTIF, November 2019).

In the National Action Plan for Renewable Energies (PNAER), it was foreseen that solar thermal collector installationw would have an 11.5% annual average rate until the year 2020, to achieve a total capacity of 2.2 million m2. However, contrary to the objectives of the Plan there was an annual average decrease of 30% between 2010 and 2012 and a decrease of 37% in 2013. From 2013 to 2014 and from 2014 to 2015 the decrease was of about 9% each year. An increase of 2% in 2018 is considered in “Solar Thermal Markets in Europe - Trends and Market Statistics 2018, ESTIF, November 2019.

The national energy and climate plans (NECPs) were introduced by the Regulation on the governance of the energy union and climate action (EU)2018/1999 [5], agreed as part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package [6], which was adopted in 2019.

Portugal developed its Integrated National Plan for Energy and Climate for the period 2021-2030 and the final version was submitted to the EU in December 2019.

For solar thermal, PNEC indicates “In buildings, the solar thermal should coexist with other technologies of great potential and efficiency, such as biomass boilers and heat pumps. Still, it will maintain a significant role in the preparation of hot water, and in addition to other efficient solutions, it is one of the most efficient ways for space and water heating, contributing to the increase of comfort. In the case of industry, the capacity to satisfy low / medium temperature heat needs is expected to grow substantially.” And it predicts that solar thermal will contribute a total of 91, 89 and 86 ktep for 2020, 2025 and 2030, respectively (see Table 11 of PNEC) to the share of renewables in Heating and Cooling, which is considered to be 34%, 36% and 38% of the total energy consumption in 2020, 2025 and 2030, respectively. It also considers that solar thermal is able to contribute to energy needs in Industry in complement to biomass and higher electrification and digitalization of the sector.

Another important document of Energy policy is the “Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2050 (RNC 2050) - Long-Term Strategy for Carbon Neutrality of the Portuguese Economy in 2050” [7] where the same role is foreseen for Solar Thermal.

[1] Data available in, viewed on 26-05-2020, excel “indicadores energéticos.xlsx” with data until 2018

[2] ADENE/INETI (2002). “Fórum Energias Renováveis em Portugal – Uma contribuição para os objetivos de política energética e Ambiental”. Eds. Hélder Gonçalves, António Joyce, Luís Silva, ISBN-972-8646-05-4. Chapter “Solar Térmico Activo” (page. 30 to 67), Prepared by Working group coordinated and edited by M. Collares Pereira, and M.J. Carvalho

[3] Resolution of Ministers Council nº154/2001; Água Quente Solar para Portugal, ADEME/DGE/INETI, Novembro 2001, ISBN 972-8646-02-X

[4] Directive 2002/91/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2002 on the energy performance of buildings, withdrawn and replaced by Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings.

[7] Resolução do Conselho de Ministros n.º 107/2019, Diário da República, 1.ª série — N.º 123 — 1 de julho de 2019.


Typical Applications and Products

The solar thermal collector capacity installed in Portugal is iprimarily used for DHW applications with 80% installed in residential buildings (60% in single-family houses and 20% in multifamily houses). While buildings in the service sector -- tourism, public buildings, sport -- account for the remaining 20%. With a market directed to single-family houses, the typical application is a thermosiphon system with 4 m2 of solar collectors and a150/200 liters horizontal storage tank on the roof covering on average 80% of the DHW housing needs. For the collective systems, the average size is 40 m2. We can also point an evolution on the distribution in total, between Thermosiphon and Pumped Solar Heating Systems: from 60-40% in the past, to the actual 50-50% with a possible tendency to invert. In 2015, according to APISOLAR, the Thermosiphon systems manufactured or imported were approximately 22% of the total of solar products. No information is available yet for 2016 and 2017.

Main Market Drivers

During the previous decade, Portugal had a favorable RE policy environment that contributed to the expansion of the solar thermal market in Portugal. The drivers were: a) the new regulation on Energy Performance of Buildings, which imposes solar thermal for DHW since 2006 in all new buildings and in building retrofitting with a cost of 25% of the building declared value and b) a strong incentive program in 2009/2010 connected with interesting fiscal measures. These measures substantially decreased the final costs of installed systems for end-users. Now without those incentives, the final price is high for the Portuguese level of life, but worries about energy security after 2008 and the constant increase of conventional fuels also can be pointed to as drivers of the Portuguese market.



Although much higher numbers were reported previously due to the peak of Solar Thermal Industry in 2009-2010, it is estimated that the current numbers are 10 producers, 20 distributors and 50 installers. These installers are typically the interface with the end-user and market almost all the installed systems. The major part of commercialized systems (produced and imported) are directed to the Portuguese market and based on flat plate collectors (98.2% - values for 2014 according to "Solar Thermal Markets in Europe - Trends and Market Statistics 2014", ESTIF, June 2015) and mostly with selective absorbers.


In the 2013 report of APISOLAR, it was estimated that 270 workers were working directly in the sector, which develops commercial relations with 630 workers. No other source of information is available.


Typical specific market prices including installation for different systems are:

  • Individual domestic hot water system (4m² collector): 1500 - 3000 €
  • Collective systems: 500 - 750 €/m²

VAT is presently 23%, including RE technologies, but companies can amortize investment in RE in 12.5 years, reducing by that way the annual taxation which is 21%.

Other Key Topics

No specific legislation on legionella, but there is an implicit recommendation on building thermal regulation to heat water at 60ºC.

Status of the Market for Solar Buildings


Incorporation of solar technologies for buildings, like passive house and daylighting technologies, are taken into account in the building energy performance regulation, which has a structure of classification (labelling) favorable to the introduction of those technologies, meaning that when they are used in connection with solar thermal, it is easy to achieve the highest label. This highest label can then take profit of some fiscal benefits (reduction) in the property taxation.

Building certification is mandatory not only for new buildings, but also for all buildings that are rented or sold to a new owner. In these situations, when the labelling is attributed some recommendations are given to obtain a higher label. If these measures are applied and correspond to an increase of two labels, also a reduction in the taxes to the property can be requested. Information on these benefits is available in

In 2019, legislation was published with the rules that allow buildings to be classified as NZEB. The verification of these rules is mandatory for new buildings owned and used by public institutions from January 1, 2019 and for all other new buildings beginning on January 1, 2021.

Main Market Drivers

The regulation on Energy Performance of Buildings is in place and was revised in 2013 to improve construction conditions, according to the targets of Portugal in view of the 20-20-20 horizon. Until 2020, Portugal included in its National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (PNAEE) and in PNAER (National Action Plan on Renewable Energies), several measures to increase efficiency in buildings. The same is now considered in PNEC 2021-2030.

Those measures include existing construction, thus being an incentive to ameliorate the thermal conditions and comfort of older buildings, which also need to be certified if there is a transaction. In consequence, there is now a market perception that the building renovation sector is important and is expected to be the main sector of activity in the next years.

Decreases in the construction market observed until 2015 changed in 2016 and 2017. The number of building permits increased by about 10% over the previous year and in 2018 this increase was approximately 18% [1] . This increase in construction will be reflected in the Solar Energy Market due to the mandatory use of Solar Collectors for Domestic Water Heating.

It is also worth noting that the number of permits for refurbishment increased around 12% in 2018, while in 2017 it kept constant in relation to the previous year.

[1] Estatísticas da Construção e Habitação - 2018, published in 2019 and Estatísticas da Construção e Habitação -2017, published in 2018, by INE – Statistics Portugal.



No data available.


In Portugal, there is not a "typical" solar building because there is not yet in the market a large offer for those buildings. But the experience gathered with the construction of the "SOLAR XXI Building" existing on the campus of LNEG in Lisbon, the final costs including 100 m² of polycrystalline PV façade, is in the order of 800 €/m². This is the price in 2006, it includes straight costs surveillance and excludes terrain of construction.


R&D Activities

R&D Programmes

There is no national R&D programme specific for solar thermal and/or for solar buildings in Portugal. However, universities, research institutes and enterprises can apply for national programs, where iis possible to accommodate part of the research and demo needs of solar technologies. Those Programs are managed by:

  • FCT ( – Science and Technology Foundation which supports graduate education and training, carrier development, research and development grants, research units, etc., in all areas of science and technology.
  • Portugal 2020 (, which sponsors R&D in industry and services, promoted by enterprises that can apply alone, in consortium or subcontract R&D national entities.


R&D Infrastructure

Institution Type Research Areas Involvement Website
LNEG - National Laboratory of Energy and Geology State Laboratory Solar thermal systems Task 38, 39, 40, 43, 44, 57
FCT/UN -Nova School of Science and Technology University Solar building Task 41; Task 52
FEUP - Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto University Passive houses
EEUM - University of Minho, School of Engineering University Solar building
University of Evora - Renewable Energies Chair University Solar thermal systems Task 49, 62, 64
University of Aveiro University Solar Thermal Systems
University of Algarve University Solar Cooking
IPS - Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal Institution of higher education Storage systems

Actual Innovations

Specific private companies developing new solutions:

  • Solar Combistores (J. Prior); Collector for façade integration heating air and water (T&T)
  • Medium temperature stationary concentrating collectors for Industrial applications (MCG).

In the framework of projects financed by FCT (Science and Technology Foundation):

  • Study of solar thermal collector components durability are being performed by LNEG with the support of Solar Thermal Producers and in cooperation with Universities (Lisbon University – IST and New University of Lisbon – FCT).

Two research infrastructures are also financed by FCT (Science and Technology Foundation):

  • NZEBLab is coordinated by LNEG and is dedicated to the research on integration of RE in buildings
  • INIESC is coordinated by University of Évora and is dedicated to research in CSP including SHIP.

Support Framework


As a European country, Portugal is committed to contributing to the targets established in the 20-20-20 Horizon, which implies working to achieve the specific goals of the country. The most important goal is the 31% target for percentage of final energy consumption with RE origin. This value is actually foreseen as easily achievable because of recent large investments in the wind sector complemented by our great hydropower potential. In 2016, this value was 30.9% and in 2017 and 2018 a slight decrease was observed, 27.3%  (source: Observatório da Energia – ADENE based on information from General Direction of Energy -, viewed in 28-05-2020).

New goals are now considered in PNEC 2030 (Integrated National Plan for Energy and Climate 2021-2030) and consider a target of 47% for percentage of final energy consumption with RE origin.

Government Agencies Responsible for Solar Thermal, for Solar Building Activities

DGEG ( – The General Directorate for Energy and Geology (DGEG) is the organ of the Portuguese Public Administration whose mission is to contribute to the design, development and evaluation of policies related to energy and geological resources, in a perspective of sustainable development and ensuring security of supply.

LNEG ( – National Laboratory of Energy and Geology, is a R&D institution of the Ministry of Environment and Energy Transition, assumed as the interface between research results and economic agent’s community. It works as a consultant for public policies in the areas of energy and geology, environment, sustainability, standardization and certification. LNEG also gives direct support to the State in the areas of international representation and provides the Government of appropriate reasoning on Science and Technology for the sectorial policies. LNEG has an accredited laboratory for testing of solar thermal systems, collectors, and other components (LES) performing tests either directly to industry or to certification bodies, namely, the national certification body CERTIF, in the frame of national and Solar Keymark certification.

ADENE ( – National Energy Agency, ADENE is a nonprofit associative type institution, sponsored in majority (69.66%) by the Ministry of Economy (through DGEG, DGAE and LNEG) and by the concessionaires of public supply of electricity and gas (EDP and Galp Energia). ADENE performs activities of public interest in energy policy and public services concession or licensed in the energy sector, can act in areas relevant to other sectorial policies, when intertwined with energy policy, in connection with the public competent entities. ADENE is the entity responsible by all building thermal performance certification process by delegation of DGEG (Directorate General of Energy and Geology).

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

The code for energy performance of buildings (SCE) is formed by two codes, one applied to energy performance of residential buildings (REH) and another applied to energy performance of commercial and services buildings (RECS) (Decreto-Lei n.º 118/2013. D.R. n.º159, Série I de 2013-08-20 (

The REH imposes the usage of solar thermal collectors for hot water production in all new buildings, if there is a good exposition to solar radiation in their cover. The same rules apply to big renovation of existing buildings. Although it is an imposition it has been accompanied along the last years, by some punctual programs sponsoring the solar thermal systems for buildings of social benefit and for companies when integrated in their overall energy efficiency measures. In the same base punctual interventions in building’s façade had benefit of similar supporting programs.

The mandatory usage of solar thermal in the REH context is accompanied by the obligation of usage of certified collectors (CERTIF or SOLARKEYMARK), the obligation of certified installers and it also imposes a 6 year warranty maintenance. These set of items lead, during the last years, to the existence of several courses for designers and installers, promoted by the public and private education sectors. Some universities are also offering now in their civil and/or architectural departments lectures on the solar thermal and solar building design (IST, FCUL, FEUP, FCT/UN, EEUM, UEvora, UA, UAlg, IPS etc).

RD&D funding in Portugal is connected to the Programs of FCT (usually for small projects on the fundamental and applied research side coming from universities and research institutes and laboratories) and of Portugal 2020 (for projects led by companies and involving or not public research entities).

Information Resources

National Solar Associations (industry and non-industry)

The most relevant national associations in the solar heating and cooling field, are:

APISOLAR - Associação Portuguesa da Industria Solar (

Founded in 1998, APISOLAR - Solar Industry Portuguese Association, is an Association that exists for the sake of defense, development and promotion of solar photovoltaic and solar thermal, involving industrial manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, retailers components and accessories, designers, installers, etc.. For further internationalization of the domestic industry, APISOLAR joined the Federation of European Solar Thermal Industry (ESTIF) and the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).

APREN - Associação de Energias Renováveis (

The Portuguese Association for Renewable Energies (APREN) is a non-profit association, founded in October 1988 with the mission of coordination, representation and defence of the common interests of its Members. APREN Associates are companies holding licenses for the establishment of centrals for renewable electricity production, as well as any natural persons or legal persons interested in the development of renewable energies in Portugal. APREN represents about 90% of the electrical installed capacity produced by renewable sources. APREN participates in the development of energy policies for Portugal, promoting the use and exploitation of renewable resources for domestic electricity production.

National Associations on Green/Solar/Sustainable Buildings

QUERCUS ( - National Association for Nature Conservation (Associação Nacional de Conservação da Natureza). Quercus is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) founded in Portugal October 31, 1985. It is an independent, nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit, and consists of citizens who joined around the same interest for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and Environmental Protection in general, in a perspective of sustainable development. DECO - Portuguese Association for Consumer Protection ( ) defends the rights and legitimate interests of consumers, helping them to solve their problems and to exercise their basic rights: access to information for a better choice, the quality of goods, right to education, justice, health and safety. DECO contributes to more informed consumers, more enlightened, more aware, more confident and empowered, and able to be an engine of an innovative and competitive economy. DECO, and DECO PROTESTE publisher, work closely with similar organizations in Spain, Italy, Belgium and Brazil. It is also BEUC member (Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs), CI (Consumers International) and ICRT (International Consumer Research & Testing). Presently DECO is involved in two European Projects where Solar Thermal Systems are important subjects (LabelPack A+ ( and Clear (

Most Important Media for Solar Thermal and Solar Buildings

ADENE ( - National Energy Agency, keeps actualized all important information (laws, codes, software, certificates, statistics, courses, etc.) related with building thermal certification in Portugal.

LNEG ( -The National Laboratory of Energy and Geology, Information on activities, talks open to the public, organization of seminars.