Status of Solar Heating/Cooling and Solar Buildings - 2015

Status of the Market for Solar Thermal Systems

Market Size and Trends

Solar water heater sales have reduced from a historically high level in 2009 due to reduced markets support mechanisms from State and Federal governments 

Typical Applications and Products

Typical applications include:

  • Solar water heating in single family homes.  Products used in this application are typically approximately 4 sq m. of collector with a 250-300 litre tank.  Tanks are almost always mounted outdoors and some are installed in a thermosiphon configuration with the tank close coupled with the collectors, others are installed on the ground with forced circulation to the roof.  Many tanks include auxiliary boosting within the tank using an electric element, others use a post heater, often inline gas fuelled, to provide backup for periods of insufficient solar input.  Savings of 60% to 95% compared to a conventional gas or electric water heater are achieved.
  • Solar pool heating.  This typically uses unglazed thermoplastic collectors to provide improved comfort in outdoor pools or energy savings for indoor pools. The area of collector installed is generally 50% to 80% of the pool surface area.

Main Market Drivers

Solar water heating for domestic hot water has been driven by building and plumbing regulations that promote low emission water heaters.  This varies from State to State.  

Over the past decade market support mechanisms such as green certificates (SRES), Rebates and White certificates in some States have supported the market.  Many of the rebates (subsidies) have been phased out since 2009

Low awareness of solar water heating and the tendency to replace ‘like for like’ in the replacement market remains a key barrier.

Solar pool heating is driven by the high cost of using conventional energy to heat pools.

Industry

Australia has a large manufacturing base of solar water heaters and pool heating collectors. 

Some solar water heaters installed in Australia are imported.  Some Australian products are exported.

Most products are sold through specialist suppliers or conventional plumbing supply chains.  Some specialist suppliers are franchisees of manufacturers but this is a small part of the current market.

In new dwellings the builder generally provides the solar water heater which is often purchased from the manufacturer.

Employment

According to Australia’s Clean Energy Council there are approximately 995 full time equivalent jobs in the solar water heating sector

Costs

The average cost for a solar water heater in Australia in 2012 was AU$3,070 (BIS Shrapnel, 2012)

Other Key Topics

Some solar water heaters installed in Australia have had issues with overheating in summer causing water loss due to boiling.  AS/NZS 2712 was revised to include an overheating test to address this issue.

Status of the Market for Solar Buildings

Scope

In Australia there are a number of schemes that promote energy efficiency in buildings and also wider sustainability schemes.  Whilst covered in the Building Code of Australia these are generally state based for domestic dwellings and generally only cover new buildings.

Passive solar technologies including daylighting are not specifically recognised however the energy reductions contributed by these technologies help to reach energy consumption targets include in the schemes.

There are a few industry leaders that are providing high levels of sustainability in buildings, however the mass market is producing regulation minimum buildings.

Market Size and Trends

There are no specific requirements or support for solar technologies for buildings other than solar water heaters.

Main Market Drivers

The main driver for residential dwellings is building regulations that are defined in the National Construction Code (Building Code of Australia and Plumbing Code of Australia) and implemented at state and territory level that require a minimum level of energy efficiency of the structure for new builds.  This is measured at the planning stage using computer simulation programs to calculate heating and cooling energy loads from the plans, or through complying with other elements deemed to meet   building regulations.

Commercial buildings require disclosure of energy consumption at sale or lease which will influence property values.  There is also a Green Building rating scheme, Green Star, which identifies good and best practice in new builds as a means of rewarding leading builds and developers.  Many new CBD office buildings are achieving market recognition using Green Star.

There are Green and White certificate trading schemes that are market drivers for existing residential and commercial buildings.  These are limited in scope and apart from solar water heating no solar technologies are currently included in white certificate schemes.  PV is included in Green Certificate schemes.

Employment

According to Australia’s Clean Energy Council there are approximately 995 full time equivalent jobs in the solar water heating sector

Costs

The average cost for a solar water heater in Australia in 2012 was AU$3,070 (BIS Shrapnel, 2012)

R&D Activities

R&D Programmes

While research on solar thermal and solar buildings is being undertaken by various institutions, there is not a single ‘national’ R&D program.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA http://www.arena.gov.au/) maintains a research program for solar energy.  ARENA has recently included industrial process heat as a prioritry area of research.

The Cooperative Research Centre in Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) was established in 2012 and involves a range of research, government and industry partners. A key aim of the CRCLCL is to help cut Australia’s residential and commercial carbon emissions through developing low carbon building construction systems and materials and increasing the evidence base for government policy and planning. http://www.lowcarbonlivingcrc.com.au

Some of the institutions conducting R&D include:

University of New South Wales http://www.unsw.edu.au/

  • Centre for Energy and Research Policy Analysis 
  • Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets

University of South Australia –

Australian National University

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisations (CSIRO)

  • Energy Flagship   http://www.csiro.au/en/Research/EF/Areas/Solar

University of Sydney

R&D Infrastructure

R&D Institutions
Institution Type of Institution Relevant Research Areas IEA SHC Involvement Website
Grocon Builder/Developer Green Building Task 40 www.grocon.com/
University of Sydney faculty of Architecture University Housing Task 47 sydney.edu.au/architecture
University of SA University Buildings Storage Solar resource Task 42 Task 46 www.unisa.edu.au/Research/Barbara-Hardy-Institute/
UNSW built environment/APVI University Solar architecture and planning Task 41 Task 51 www.be.unsw.edu.au
Standards Australia Committee CS028 Standards body Solar hot water Solar cooling Task 43 Task 48 www.standards.org.au/?
Energy Analysis & Engineering Consultant Solar hot water Solar cooling Task 43 Task 48 www.energyae.com/
Vipac Test Lab Solar hot water Task 43 www.vipac.com.au
Bureau of Meteorology Government agency Solar resource Task 46 www.bom.gov.au/
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisations (CSIRO) Government research organistaion Solar Cooling, Solar Resources Task 46 Task 48 Task 53 http://www.csiro.au/en/Research/EF/Areas/Solar
Sustainable Energy Transformation Consultant Rating and certification, Standards Task 43 www.setransformation.com.au

Actual Innovations

Market support innovations. SRES supports solar water heating by means of using computer simulations to calculate savings using an Australian and New Zealand Standard methodology (AS/NZS4234).

Standards  A solar cooling standard has been published facilitating performance evaluation of solar cooling system.  This will facilitate solar cooling being incorporated into Green and White certificate schemes.  This standard (AS5389) is currently under revision to include other technologies (see http://www.sdpp.standards.org.au/ActiveProjects.aspx?CommitteeNumber=CS-028&CommitteeName=Solar%20Water%20Heaters)

Support Framework

Background

Renewable Energy Target (RET)

The RET scheme is designed to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020. The RET scheme is helping to transform Australia’s electricity generation mix to cleaner and more diverse sources and supporting growth and employment in the renewable energy sector.

Since January 2011 the RET scheme has operated in two parts—the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET).

The LRET creates a financial incentive for the establishment or expansion of renewable energy power stations, such as wind and solar farms or hydro-electric power stations. It does this by legislating demand for Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs). One LGC can be created for each megawatt-hour of eligible renewable electricity produced by an accredited renewable power station. LGCs can be sold to entities (mainly electricity retailers) who surrender them annually to the Clean Energy Regulator to demonstrate their compliance with the RET scheme’s annual targets. The revenue earned by the power station for the sale of LGCs is additional to that received for the sale of the electricity generated.

The LRET includes legislated annual targets which will require significant investment in new renewable energy generation capacity in coming years. The large-scale targets ramp up until 2020 when the target will be 33,000 gigawatt-hours of renewable electricity generation.  This target has been reduced in 2015 from 41,000 gigawatt-hours.

The SRES creates a financial incentive for households, small businesses and community groups to install eligible small-scale renewable energy systems such as solar water heaters, heat pumps, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, small-scale wind systems, or small-scale hydro systems. It does this by legislating demand for Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). STCs are created for these systems at the time of installation, according to the amount of electricity they are expected to produce or displace in the future. For example, the SRES allows eligible solar PV systems to create, at the time of installation, STCs equivalent to 15 years of expected system output.

 

Energy White Paper

The Australian Government has published an Energy White Paper (http://ewp.industry.gov.au/)  that sets out an energy policy framework for delivering competitively priced and reliable energy supply to households, business and international markets through:

  • increasing competition to keep prices down
  • increasing energy productivity to promote growth and
  • investing in Australia’s energy future.

The white paper acknowledges that Australia has abundant solar resources.  It promotes technology neutral policies.  It does not include heat.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)

ARENA is an independent statutory authority which commenced operations on 1 July 2012, with two objectives: to improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies, and to increase the supply of renewable energy in Australia.  The governance of ARENA is defined by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Act 2011.

ARENA has committed $1 billion to nearly 200 projects across a suite of renewable energy types. Industry has matched this investment with a further $1.8 billion, taking the investment in Australian renewables to a total of $2.8 billion as a result of the programme. More information on ARENA is available at: www.arena.gov.au.

 

Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC)

The $10 billion CEFC ($2 billion per year for five years) provides investment in renewable energy, low-emission energy technology and energy efficiency projects in Australia.  The CEFC was established on 3 August 2012 under the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012.  The CEFC commenced funding investments on 1 July 2013.  As at 30 June 2014, the CEFC has contracted investments of over $900 million in projects with a total value of over $3 billion.

 

Energy Efficiency

In July 2009, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to the comprehensive, 10-year National Strategy on Energy Efficiency (NSEE), to accelerate energy efficiency improvements and deliver cost-effective energy efficiency gains across all sectors of the Australian economy. The NSEE aims to streamline roles and responsibilities across government by providing a nationally consistent and coordinated approach to energy efficiency.

Government Agencies Responsible for Solar Thermal, for Solar Building Activities

Commonwealth

Department of Industry

 

State

ACT - Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate

Victoria – Sustainability Victoria

Queensland – Department of Energy and Water Supply

New South Wales – Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services

South Australia – Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy

Northern Territory – PowerWaterCorp

Western Australia – Public Utilities Office

Tasmania – Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources

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

The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES)

http://ret.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/About-the-Schemes/Small-scale-Renewable-Energy-Scheme--SRES-/about-sres

The SRES creates a financial incentive for owners to install eligible small-scale installations such as solar water heaters, heat pumps, solar panel systems, small-scale wind systems, or small-scale hydro systems. It does this by legislating demand for Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). STCs are created for these installations according to the amount of electricity they produce or displace. Renewable Energy Target (RET)-liable entities have a legal requirement to buy STCs and surrender them on a quarterly basis.

Solar water heater or heat pump installations are eligible if the system is new and listed in the Register of Solar Water Heaters managed by the Clean Energy Regulator. Eligible small-scale systems are entitled to create STCs based around how much renewable electricity the systems produce or displace. The number of certificates a system can create is based on the amount of electricity in megawatt hours (MWh):

  • generated by the small-scale solar PV panel, wind or hydro system, over the course of its lifetime of up to 15 years; or
  • displaced by the solar water heater or heat pump, over the course of its lifetime of up to 10 years.

This number may vary depending on geographic location, what kind of system is installed, Solar Credits eligibility, and/or the size and capacity of the installed system.

There is a legal obligation on RET-liable entities (usually electricity retailers) to purchase and surrender a certain amount of these certificates each year. The trade in these certificates thereby provides financial incentive for investment in renewable energy power stations, and for the installation of solar water heaters, heat pumps, and small-scale solar panel, wind, and hydro systems.

The certificates are created and traded through the Renewable Energy Certificate Registry, an Internet-based registry managed by the Clean Energy Regulator.

 

Buildings: Commercial

http://www.industry.gov.au/Energy/EnergyEfficiency/Non-residentialBuildings/Pages/default.aspx

The Australian Government has a mixture of financial incentives, regulation, strategies and information resources all geared towards improving the sustainability of commercial buildings. As part of the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency, the Australian Government is:

  • working with State and Territory governments to introduce stricter energy efficiency requirements in the National Construction Code
  • administering the Commercial Building Disclosure Program, which requires compulsory energy ratings for large commercial buildings which are sold and leased
  • working with state and territory governments to enhance the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS), which is the system used to measure the environmental performance of commercial buildings
  • working with State and Territory governments to develop a Facilitation Strategy that support long term improvements in the energy efficiency of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems through a collaborative approach with industry

 

Buildings: Homes

http://industry.gov.au/Energy/EnergyEfficiency/Homes/Pages/default.aspx

The Australian Government has a mixture of, regulation, strategies and information resources all geared towards improving the sustainability of homes.  The Australian Government is:

  • working with State and Territory governments to apply the energy efficiency requirements in the National Construction Code
  • administering the Nationwide Home Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS), which sets a national framework for accrediting software used to rate the thermal performance capabilities of Australian homes, , and the accreditation of assessors who use the software http://www.nathers.gov.au
  • supporting the update of resources like Your Energy Savings and Your Home that provide home builders, designers and the public with up-to-date information on how to improve the sustainability of their homes.

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