This report comprises solar thermal market data from 58 countries covering an estimated 95% of the worldwide market.

Total installed capacity in operation worldwide by the end of 2012

By the end of 2012, an installed capacity of 269.3 GWth, corresponding to a total of 384.7 million square meters of collector area was in operation in the 58 countries recorded in this report.

The vast majority of the total capacity in operation was installed in China (180.4 GWth) and Europe (42.8 GWth), which together account for 83% of the total installed. The remaining installed capacity was shared between the United States and Canada (17.2 GWth), Asia excluding China (10.3 GWth), Latin America (7.4 GWth), Australia and New Zealand (5.4 GWth), the MENA2 countries Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia (4.9 GWth) and the Sub-Sahara African countries Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe (1.0 GWth). 

The breakdown of the cumulated capacity in operation in 2012 by collector type is 26.4% glazed flat-plate collectors, 64.6% evacuated tube collectors, 8.4% unglazed water collectors, and 0.6% glazed and unglazed air collectors.

The leading countries in cumulated unglazed and glazed water collector capacity in operation in 2012 per 1,000 inhabitants were Cyprus (548 kWth/1,000 inhabitants), Austria (420 kWth/1,000 inhabitants), Israel (385 kWth/1,000 inhabitants), Barbados (320 kWth/1,000 inhabitants), Greece (268 kWth/1,000 inhabitants), Australia (233 kWth/ 1,000 inhabitants),Germany (145 kWth/1,000 inhabitants), Turkey (136 kWth/1,000 inhabitants),China (134 kWth/ 1,000 inhabitants) and Jordan (121 kWth/1,000 inhabitants). 

Newly installed capacity worldwide in 2012

In the year 2012, a capacity of 52.7 GWth, corresponding to 75.3 million square meters of solar collectors, was installed worldwide. This means an increase in new collector installations of 9.4% compared to the year 2011. 

The main markets were in China (44.7 GWth) and Europe (3.7 GWth), which together accounted for 92% of the new collector installations in 2012. The rest of the market was shared between Asia excluding China (1.3 GWth),

Latin America represented by Brazil, Chile and Mexico (1.0 GWth), the United States and Canada (0.8 GWth), Australia (0.7 GWth), the MENA region represented by Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia (0.4 GWth) and the Sub-Sahara African countries Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe (0.1 GWth).

The breakdown of the newly installed capacity in 2012 by collector type is 15.9%glazed flat-plate collectors, 81.0%
evacuated tube collectors, 3.0% unglazed water collectors and 0.2% glazed and unglazed air collectors.

The leading countries in newly install unglazed and glazed water collector capacity in 2012 per 1,000 inhabitants were China (33 kWth/1,000 inhabitants); Australia (29 kWth/1,000 inhabitants); Israel (29 kWth/1,000 inhabitants), Austria (18 kWth/1,000 inhabitants); Greece (16 kWth/1,000 inhabitants); Denmark (14 kWth/1,000 inhabitants); Turkey (14 kWth/1,000 inhabitants); Switzerland (14 kWth/1,000 inhabitants); Cyprus (14 kWth/1,000 inhabitants) and Lebanon (10 kWth/1,000 inhabitants).

Contribution to the energy supply and CO2 reduction

The annual collector yield of all water-based solar thermal systems in operation by the end of 2012 was 227.8 TWh (= 820 PJ) in the 58 recorded countries. This corresponds to an energy savings equivalent to 24.5 million tons of oil and 79.1 million tons of CO2.

Distribution of systems by system type and application

The thermal use of the sun’s energy varies greatly from region to region across the globe. It can be roughly distinguished by the type of solar thermal collector used (unglazed water collectors, evacuated tube collectors, flat plate collectors, glazed and unglazed air collectors, concentrating collectors), the type of systemoperation (pumped solar thermal systems, thermosiphon systems), and the main type of application (swimming pool heating, domestic hot water preparation, space heating, heating of industrial processes, solar district heating or solar thermal cooling).

For unglazed and glazed water collectors, the evacuated tube collector dominated with a65%share of the cumulated capacity in operation and a 82% share of the newly installed capacity. InChina, vacuum tube collectors played an important role, and since this was by far the largest market, the worldwide figures tend towards a higher share of this
type of solar thermal collector. 

Unglazed water collectors accounted for 8% of the cumulated water collectors installed worldwide and the share tended to decrease. In 2012 the share of unglazed water collectors was 3%of the newly installed capacity. 

Worldwide, around 75% of all solar thermal systems installed are thermosiphon systems and 25% are pumped solar heating systems. Similar to the distribution by type of solar thermal collector in total numbers, the Chinese market influenced the overall figuresmost, and in 2012 89% of the newly installed systems were estimated to be thermosiphon systems while pumped systems only accounted for 11%.

In general, thermosiphon systems are more common in warm climates such as in Africa, South and East Asia (excluding China), Latin America, southern Europe and the MENA region. In these regions thermosiphon systems are more often equipped with flat plate collectors,while in China the typical thermosiphon system for domestic hot water preparation is equipped with evacuated tubes.

The calculated number of water-based solar thermal systems in operation was approximately 78 million by the end of 2012. The breakdown is 8%used for swimming pool heating,78%used for domestic hot water preparation in single family houses, and 9%attached to larger domestic hot water consumers, such as multifamily houses, hotels, hospitals, schools, etc. Around 4%of the worldwide installed capacity supplied heat for both domestic hot water and space heating (solar combi-systems). The remaining systems accounted for about 1%or almost 4 million square meters of solar thermal collectors and delivered heat to district heating networks, industrial processes or thermally driven solar cooling applications.

Compared to the cumulated installed capacity, the share of swimming pool heating was much less for new installations (8% of total capacity and only 2%of newly installed capacity). To a lesser extent, this is also true for domestic hot water systems in single-family houses. Here the share shows a declining trend, but with a share of 77% in 2012 this is still the most common application for solar thermal systems worldwide. The shares of large-scale domestic hot water applications tended to increase (9% of total capacity and already 17% of newly installed capacity) while the share of solar-combi systems remained at a low level of 3–4%.

The calculated number of different types of solar thermal systems in operation was approximately 78million.