Status of Solar Heating/Cooling and Solar Buildings - 2021

Status of the Market for Solar Thermal Systems

Market Size and Trends

The market for solar heating installations in Sweden grew rapidly until around 2006. After that, the overall market started to decline, and in 2011, a subsidy towards solar heating systems in the form of an investment grant was removed, which also increased this trend. 

The decline, apart from the removal of the subsidy, can be explained by low energy prices and competition with heat pumps but also by the large increase in solar electricity (PV), and in many respects the two markets are competing for the same customers. Most companies that currently sell solar heating systems also sell solar electricity systems. 

The latest trend in solar thermal in Sweden is rather related to large-scale solar thermal plants, and a pilot plant of 1 MWth solar thermal plant has received funding from the Swedish Energy Agency. The plant will be connected to the district heating grid in Härnösand and is made up of concentrated solar collectors. 

In 2021 the Swedish Energy Agency received an assignment from the Swedish Government to analyze the potential of solar thermal energy in Sweden, as well as how solar thermal energy can contribute to the Swedish national energy and climate targets. 

The total installed power of solar thermal in Sweden as of 2016 amounts to 211 MWth of glazed solar collectors, excluding concentrators. 

More information regarding Sweden's solar thermal market can be found in the IEA SHC Programme's Solar Heat Worldwide 2020 publication.

Typical Applications and Products

Typical applications in Sweden are combined domestic hot water and space heating systems in single-family houses and multi-family houses, often in combination with solid wood boilers (i.e., wood chips, logs, pellets, and briquettes). You can also find solar heating in small district heating systems, an area that is receiving more attention lately, and combinations of solar collectors and heat pumps, for example, single-family houses

Large-scale solar thermal projects were popular in Sweden during the 80s and 90s, but has seen a decline since then. In the last years, we are seeing some more investment in district heating connected solar thermal plants, a 400 kW medium sized plant was commissioned 2020 in Ystad, and a 1 MW plant is under construction in Härnösand. 

Main Market Drivers

The Swedish building code indirectly promotes installing solar energy that is located on or integrated in the building. The calculation of the energy performance includes the solar energy that is used in the building. Key barriers are the low price for alternative energy supply and a lack of information on solar heating systems among actors and consumers. A main competitor in the small systems segment are heat pumps and for large systems district heating (including combined heat and power generation) based on, for example, wood fuels, municipal solid waste, and industrial waste heat.

Increased demand for biomass is expected to increase biomass prices, which might make solar-assisted district heating solutions more competitive.

Industry

In Sweden, there are a few solar collector manufacturing companies, which cover about 50% of the domestic collector market, and one single absorber manufacturer that exports. Different approaches are used to market the systems, but mainly this is done via the installers.

Employment

Estimates from the Swedish Solar Energy Association suggest that there are around 60 jobs (full time equivalent) in Sweden related to the solar thermal industry, including installation and related service (testing, etc.).

Costs

The costs for small systems are in the range around 5,000 Euro (5 m2, 300 litre) and the large systems are in the range from 300 - 1,000 Euro/m2 (excluding VAT) depending on size.

Other Key Topics

A key topic for the industry is the absence of governmental support or subsidies for solar heating systems which limits further market growth.  Another key issue is the competition with heat pumps and district heating which are the main heating systems in Sweden.

A hurdle for the installation of solar thermal in Sweden is the absence of certified installers, and the knowledge base is decreasing.

Status of the Market for Solar Buildings

Scope

The focus in Sweden is on low-energy buildings and nearly zero-energy buildings. There is no separate focus on solar buildings, however, several low-energy or nearly zero-energy buildings are equipped with solar energy supply systems.

Market Size and Trends

N.A.

Main Market Drivers

The main drivers for low energy buildings are local policies of cities and companies who want to reach ambitious energy and environmental targets.

Employment

N.A.

Costs

There is no separate information on solar buildings.

R&D Activities

R&D Programmes

No national R&D program is entirely and specifically devoted towards solar thermal energy, but the TERMO program is directed towards heating and cooling for the energy system transition, which could be of interest for solar thermal researchers.

There are a few research and innovation programs within the energy and construction sector where solar heating projects can be funded. The Swedish Energy Agency runs the program E2B2 which is a broad research program in collaboration with various partners in the construction sector, and also Spara och Bevara, which is a research program that addresses renovation of buildings with historic value.

The research program Pilot & Demo supports pilot and demonstration projects. In the second quarter of 2020, a solar district heating demonstration plant received funding through this program.

R&D Infrastructure

Institution Type Research Areas Involvement Website
Linnaeus University Natural Sciences Polymeric solar heating systems www.lnu.se
Uppsala University Solid State Physics/Department of Art History, Conservation Solar collectors/Solar energy in historical buildings Task 59 www.uu.se
Lund University Energy and Building Design Building design, architecture Task 61, Task 63 www.lth.se
Royal Institute of Technology Energy Technology PCM storage www.kth.se
RISE Swedish Research Institute Energy Technology, R&D Testing and certification, development Task 57 www.ri.se
Dalarna University Solar Energy Research Center Combisystems www.du.se
Chalmers (Uni Tech) Building Services Engineering Solar systems, small and large www.chalmers.se
Mälardalen University Energy Technology Solar collectors, etc. www.mdh.se

Actual Innovations

N.A.

Support Framework

Background

Energy goals/targets for Sweden were renewed by all political parties in 2016. The main goals are:

  • 100% use of renewable energy 2040
  • 50% more efficient energy use by 2030
  • Sweden is to emit Zero carbon emissions by 2045

There are no specific and quantitative energy policy targets directly related to solar heating, but it is indirectly affected by the other political goals.

Government Agencies Responsible for Solar Thermal, for Solar Building Activities

The main agency is the Swedish Energy Agency, www.energimyndigheten.se/en/.

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

There are several indirect measures like taxes on fossil fuels and energy efficiency requirements for new buildings.

Support measures that directly support emission reductions may be relevant for solar heating systems, Klimatklivet is one such support measure, where local and regional investments receive support for emission reductions.  For solar buildings, the main incentive can still be considered to be local energy and climate policies.

Reducing process related emissions and achieving negative greenhouse gas emissions in Swedish industry have been highlighted in the transition to a sustainable energy system. In order to support the transition, Sweden has introduced a long term support scheme for industry. Within this support scheme measures that contribute to reducing industry related greenhouse gas emissions can get grants, where solar heating for industrial processes may receive support.

A generally applicable tax deduction is possible for all refurbishments, rebuilding, and add-on building, including solar thermal systems. This subsidy can give up to a 30% reduction in labor costs for installation and connection of solar panels and associated equipment. Labor costs are generally 30% of the total investment cost, including VAT. The tax reduction is then 30% of this amount.

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

  • Energi & Miljö
    Monthly magazine that informs on the development of heating, ventilation, indoor climate, plumbing, refrigeration and energy technology. Readers consists of industrial executives, consulting engineers, building services contractors, wholesalers, builders, real estate administrators and employees at official institutions and companies, governmental and municipal authorities.
  • Ny Teknik
    Sweden’s largest technology and IT newspaper and publishes technolgy news, product trends and innovations. The newspaper reports every week on growing sectors such as IT, telecom, energy, biotechnology and how new technology is being used within industry.
  • Byggindustrin (The Construction Industry) 
    Industry's leading news magazine and is published every week. The newspaper includes reports and articles on technology, housing, building materials, finance, and architecture.
  • Energinyheter
    Swedish news on energy, both electricity and heating.