The French collector market totalled 150 500 m² in 2014, down 21 % from 2013. All three main market segments for solar thermal systems have shown a decline in 2014. Collective systems are the most important segment and represented 50% of the total solar collector market in terms of surface. This particular market is down by 23 % compared to 2013 and represented 75 500 m² in 2014. Next in order of importance are DHW systems: down 9 % to 18 600 units (they represented 45% of the market in terms of surface). Finally, combined DHW and heating systems represented only 700 systems (down 36%) and have effectively become a niche market (5% of the market in terms of surface). The overall significant downward trend as observed since 2008 is confirmed by these figures for 2014 (source: ENERPLAN).
The outlook for the 2015 overall market shows a continuation of this trend as the market may contract by another 25% (source: ENERPLAN). Although it had been hoped that the building regulations (RT 2012) would become stricter and thus favour collective solar systems as of 2015, such a change may now only take place as of 2018.
The main reasons that explain the retraction of the market for individual systems are:
· The rising popularity of DHW heat pumps, less costly to purchase and easier to install. This latter reason explains why many installers prefer them over solar thermal systems;
· A return on investment which seems too long for the families;
· Solar thermal still seems to be not well known, and there often is confused with PV.
(Source: Marchés & Emplois, November 2014, ADEME).