• Panel Discussion during the workshop (from Left Mr.Gerhard Stryi-Hipp, Fraunhofer ISE; Sh. Sohail Akhtar, MNRE; Dr Winfried Damm, GIZ; Sh. Mangal Akole, STFI)

Solar water heating systems for industrial processes: huge market potential and scope for technical improvements

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New Delhi, March 30, 2016: Solar water heating systems (SWHS) are used in industries to save fuel costs and to avoid CO2 emissions. Based on a detailed scientific monitoring of two existing SWHS for one year by the German scientific partner Fraunhofer ISE, a solar system efficiency of 20 per cent was measured. With this efficiency, a fairly priced system replacing diesel or furnace oil would recover its entire cost within 2-3 years. It has been found that there are good possibilities for further technical improvements, which will even further improve their cost-effectiveness. This is the key finding of the project SoPro India, which was implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in cooperation with Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). 

In 2014, India was third largest market behind China and Turkey for glazed collector SWHS worldwide, followed by Germany. The SWHS find applications in residential, commercial, institutional and industrial sector. However, the current market share for collector area in industrial sector is under five percent of the total collector area installed nationally. There is a very high potential to strongly increase the market size in industrial sector considering the relatively high heat demand in low and medium temperature range throughout the year.

Lack of awareness amongst the potential industrial users is conceived as the biggest challenge in scaling and utilising SWHS. This coupled with no reliable information on system performances has led to limited uptake of the technology. “Monitoring of system performance is key to understand the huge potential of the SWHS market in industrial applications”, Gerhard Stryi-Hipp, head of energy policy of Fraunhofer ISE explained. “In addition, it is needed to convince interested customers about the cost-effectivesness of this promising technology”. Through SoPro India project, GIZ in cooperation with MNRE, aimed at addressing these challenges through gathering reliable data on SWHS performance and analysing its cost-effectiveness by scientifically monitoring two SWHS. In addition data on several SWHS installed in process heat application were gathered and basic information on the technology and the benefits to use it, was developed.

SoPro India project identified fields of action to improve the quality of SWHS. It is recommended to define design guidelines for typical SWHS installations for industrial applications and develop a planning software for SWHS for design improvements. Further work is required in developing robust and cheap monitoring system concepts for informing the operators if their system is working properly, thereby building trust in the technology amongst users at large. Dr Winfried Damm, Director, Indo-German Energy programme, GIZ suggested that “it is in SWHS manufacturers interest to improvise quality of systems and stay competitive especially in view of attractive returns and increased awareness of solar photovoltaics – as both technologies compete for the limited roof space in industries”. The detailed results were presented at a workshop on March 11, 2016 in New Delhi, held together with key stakeholders including manufacturers, industry association like Confederation of Indian Industry and Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI), Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited, Quality Council of India and National Institute of Solar Energy among others.

MNRE and the key stakeholders in the SWHS industry showed keen interest to follow-on the findings and work together to further improve efficiency and enhance the economic attractiveness of such systems with better quality of equipment and efficient system design. “The SoPro India project findings are important as on one hand potential customers can see the cost-benefit of installing such systems while on the other, we know that by taking certain measures we shall be able to enhance the economics further thus increasing attractiveness for industry consumers”, said Sh. Sohail Akhtar, Advisor, MNRE. In particular, MNRE and STFI agreed to develop design and installation guidelines and planning software to support the sector by realizing efficient SWHS.  Mangal Akole, Chairman, STFI mentioned that “The system design guidelines and corresponding monitoring concepts are need of the hour to enhance the performance, quality of installation and for enabling the operators to assess the energy generated by solar water heating system”.

For any further information contact abhinav.goyal@giz.de. Project results and information are available in public domain on the website www.soproindia.in

GIZ is a German government owned not-for-profit enterprise supporting sustainable development. SoPro India is a project activity under the ComSolar project within the framework of Indo-German Energy Programme. ComSolar aims at facilitating the commercialisation of solar energy in urban and industrial areas.