Status of Solar Heating/Cooling and Solar Buildings - 2015

Status of the Market for Solar Thermal Systems

Market Size and Trends

Portugal has one of the best values on annual solar energy availability, between European countries – between 1,740 kWh/(m2*year) in the South and 1,430 kWh/(m2*year) in the North for radiation in the horizontal – but has not yet, a correspondent utilization of solar thermal to give an adequate contribution to decrease the traditional dependence of the country (almost 80%) in conventional energy imports.

Nevertheless, at the end of 2014, the total installed capacity was about 1.13 million m2 of solar collectors and when we look at the annual evolution along the last decade, we can easily notice the importance of the national energy policy and available financial and fiscal incentive programs. The impact of those subsidies on the 2009/2010 sales is clear (coincident with the peak of those incentives and easy access to bank credit) as well as the decrease in the last two years, without those incentives and a recessive environment of the Portuguese economy. This puts the Portuguese market on a modest place within European countries,(<100,000 m2/year after 2010), although with average annual installed capacity per capita of 51.4Wth/inhabitant when European average is of 51.7 Wth/inhabitant. In the National Action Plan for Renewable Energies (PNAER) an annual growth rate of 11.5% between 2010 and  2020 is foreseen for the installation of new collectors, in order to achieve a total capacity of 2.2 million m2.

Typical Applications and Products

The solar thermal collector capacity installed in Portugal is used mostly for domestic hot water (DHW) applications, and is mainly (80%) installed on residential buildings – 60% on single family houses and 20% on multifamily houses – while buildings in the service sector – tourism, public buildings, sport - absorb the remaining 20%. With a market focussed on single family houses, it is usual to see the typical thermo-syphon systems with 4 m2 of solar collectors and 150/200 liters horizontal storage tank on the roofs, covering, in average, 80% of DHW housing needs. For the collective systems the average size is 40 m2. The distribution between Pumped  and Thermosyphon Solar Heating Systems is assumed to be 60 vs. 40%.

Main Market Drivers

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


It is estimated, for the solar thermal in Portugal, the following numbers: 20 producers, 200 distributors and 6,000 installers. These installers are typically the interface with end-user, marketing 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 with selective absorbers.


No data available.


Typical specific market prices including installation for different systems are:

Individual domestic hot water system (4m² collector) : 2,500 € - 3,500 €

Collective systems : 500 - 750 €/m²

VAT is actually 23%, including RE technologies, but companies can amortize investment in 4 years, reducing by that way the annual taxation.

Other Key Topics

No specific legislation on legionella, but there is an implicit recommendation on REH (residential building thermal regulation) to heat water at 55ºC.

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 thermal code which has a structure of classification (labelling) favourable 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 measures. By this way the market players have also a good incentive to improve construction, and this also helps to prepare the market to the near future, the net zero energy buildings.

Market Size and Trends

Incorporation of solar technologies for buildings, like passive house, daylighting technologies and PV systems, are taken into account in the building thermal code which has a structure of classification (labelling) favourable to the introduction of those technologies, meaning that, when they are used in connection with or in alternative to solar thermal, it is easy to achieve the highest label. This highest label can then take profit of some fiscal measures.  By this way the market players have also a good incentive to improve construction, and this also helps to prepare the market to the near future, the net zero energy buildings.

Main Market Drivers

Actually the new construction is at the lowest level of past two decades; anyway, the thermal code for buildings is on place and is being revised to improve construction conditions, according to the targets of Portugal in view of the 20-20-20 horizon. As other European countries, Portugal has a National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (PNAEE) in addition to the PNAER (National Action Plan on Renewable Energies), incorporating several measures to increase efficiency in buildings. Those measures include the existing construction, being by that way an incentive to ameliorate the thermal conditions and comfort of the old buildings, which also need to be certified if they are going to be rented or sold. In consequence there is now a perception of the market for the importance of building renovation sector, which is expected to be main sector of activity in the next years.


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 of 2006, it includes straight costs surveillance and excludes terrain of construction.

R&D Activities

R&D Programmes

There is no national R&D program specific for solar thermal and/or for solar buildings in Portugal. Anyway Universities, Research Institutes and enterprises can apply for national programs, where it has been 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, carreer development, research and development grants, research centers, etc., in all areas of science and technology.

PT2020 (  - Partnershio agreement adopted between Portugal and the European Commission which brings together the work of five European Structural Funds and Investment, ensuring the economic development policy, social and territorial cohesion in Portugal, between 2014 and 2020.These programming principles are in line with Smart Growth, Sustainable and Inclusive, continuing the Europe 2020 strategy.

R&D Infrastructure

R&D Institutions
Institution Type of Institution Relevant Research Areas IEA SHC Involvement Website
LNEG State Laboratory Solar thermal systems Task 25, 27, 33, 38, 39, 40, 43, 44
UEvora University Solar thermal systems Task 49
FCT/UN University Solar building Task 41
FEUP University Passive houses
EEUM University Solar building

Support Framework


Portugal, as an European country, is committed to contribute to the targets established in the 20-20-20 Horizon, which implies to work during the remaining years to achieve the particular goals of the country. The most important one is the 31% target for percentage of final energy consumption with RE origin. This value is actually foreseen as easily achieved because of recent large investments on the wind energy sector complemented by our great hydropower potential. In fact and depending on the scenario, it is foreseen to achieve that goal between 2015 and 2017.

The contribution of all other RE on electric and thermal energy production, of the energy efficiency policy for buildings, industry and agriculture, of the transport sector (12,5% of biofuels), are also being considered with particular goals for each sector or source. The documents collecting all that information are the two National Plans:

PNAER - National Action Plan on Renewable Energy

PNAEE – National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency

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. DGEG oversees and monitors public policies on the energy and geology fields.

LNEG ( – National Laboratory of Energy and Geology, is a R&D institution of the Ministry of Economy and Employment, assumed as the interface between research results and economic agents community. It works as a consultant for public policies in the areas of energy and geology, environment, sustainability, standardization, certification and quality. 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. Pertains to LNEG the sole national accredited laboratory for solar thermal collector testing (LES) performing tests by subcontract to the national certification body, CERTIF.

ADENE ( – National Energy Agency, ADENE is a nonprofit associative type institution, sponsored in majority (69.66%) by the Ministry of Economy and Employment (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 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 actual thermal building code (REH - Energy Performance of Residential Buildings Regulation), in force since December 2013 to substitute the previous RCCTE, continue to impose 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. It is manadatory but it has been accompanied 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 buildings 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 warranty maintenance. These set of items led, 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 arquitectural departments lectures on the solar thermal and solar building design (IST, FEUP, FCT/UN, EEUM, UEvora, UA, 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 QREN (for projects led by companies and involving or not public research entities).

Information Resources

National Solar Associations (industry and non-industry)

  • 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 defense of the common interests of its Members. APREN Associates are companies holding licenses for the establishment of centrals for renewable electricity production in the special regime (PRE-FER), as well as any natural persons or legal persons interested in the development of renewable energies in Portugal. In late 2011, APREN represented about 87% of the installed capacity of PRE-RES in Portugal and participates in the development of energy policies for Portugal, promoting the use and exploitation of renewable resources for domestic electricity production.
  • SPES – Sociedade Portuguesa de Energia Solar (actually with no activity due to organizational problems)
    The Portuguese Solar Energy Society (SPES) was formed in the beginning of the eighties as a national section of ISES, by a group of interested people (researchers, investors, technicians, economists and others etc.) in the development of Solar Energy and other Renewable Energy sources. The By-Laws of  SPES establish as a major objective for the Society “to join, to inform, to promote and to develop the efforts of those that, interested in the future, are worried with the energy problem and  specially interested in solar energy, which is in the origin of all other energy  sources. The energy problem, which constitutes a principal problem for Mankind, brings to the foreground an urgent necessity to adopt renewable energy sources, more immediately  dependent on the Sun.”

National Associations on Green/Solar/Sustainable Buildings

    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.

Most Important Media for Solar Thermal and Solar Buildings

  • APISOLAR – Solar Industry Portuguese Association (
  • ADENE – National Energy Agency (
    It manages the building thermal certification scheme in Portugal, keeping actualized in its site all important information related with the sector (laws, codes, software, certificates, statistics, courses, etc.).
  • DGEG - General Directorate for Energy and Geology  (                                                                                        
    Governmental institution directly dependent of Ministry of Economy with a mission to contribute to the design, promotion and evaluation of policies on energy and geological resources in a perspective of sustainable development and security of warranty supply. It manages also (but delegating in ADENE most of the work ) the building thermal certification scheme in Portugal.