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Building-Integrated Solar Air Heating Systems Hit Milestone

WASHINGTON, DC – According to data released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a growing sector of the industry has reached a major milestone, with 5 million square feet of building-integrated solar air heating collectors now installed in North America. SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch says these systems represent 250 megawatts (MW) of thermal energy and displace nearly 100,000 tons of CO2 each year from the atmosphere. (suite…)

(English) Solar Air Heating World Industries Association Appoints Executive Director

Canada releases world’s first test standard for unglazed ambient solar air collectors

Canadian Standards Association released in September 2011 an updated edition of the CSA F378 Series, Solar collectors which replaces the previous edition of CSA F378, Solar Collectors, published in 1987.
The new test standard currently has two sections:
  • F378.1, Glazed and unglazed liquid heating solar collectors
  • F378.2, Air heating solar collectors
The Air Standard applies to both glazed and unglazed air heating solar collectors used for converting solar radiation into thermal energy by heating air flowing through the collector. Typical applications for the air heating solar collectors covered by this Standard include their use in systems for direct space heating, combustion air heating, crop drying, and ventilation air pre-heating.
This Standard is intended to apply to solar collectors that use air as a heat transfer medium including the following types of solar collectors:
  1. glazed closed-loop recirculated air heating solar collectors;
  2. unglazed closed-loop recirculated air heating solar collectors;
  3. glazed open-loop ambient air heating solar collectors; and
  4. unglazed open-loop ambient air heating solar collectors.

UK Renewable Heat Incentive Flawed

There are some very serious issues regarding renewable thermal energy in UK and Germany that have not been told. At present both governments are excluding solar air heating in favour of their own technologies and industries which produce solar water heating panels. In Canada last year, solar air heating systems out sold all other solar thermal systems and yet, solar air technology is not accepted as a renewable energy technology in Germany and in the UK Renewable Heat Incentive dated March 2011. These governments are depriving their citizens of improved solar heating technologies.

The UK Dept of Energy & Climate Change has introduced a Renewable Heat Incentive and it has a major flaw in that it excludes solar air heating and especially transpired solar collectors.

Below are a few sections from the RHI report with comments on them in italics.


The Government will take a phased approach to implementing the RHI. Initially, in the first phase, long-term tariff support will be targeted at the big emitters in the non-domestic sector. This sector, which covers everything from large-scale industrial heating to small business and community heating projects, will provide the vast majority of the renewable heat needed to meet our targets and represents the most cost-effective way of increasing the level of renewable heat. The Government therefore wants to provide support now in order to kick-start take-up in this sector.

These buildings are heated with air and heating water first to heat air is not cost effective.

Page 10 – The first phase of RHI tariffs will only support the non-domestic sectors. These sectors represent the most cost-effective way of delivering renewable heat, which will help us meet our renewables targets and reduce carbon emissions. We therefore want to introduce support now so installations can start being built.

Excluding solar air heating and transpired collectors contradicts this statement.

P 34 – Technologies supported

We will only provide incentives for technologies which are in commercial use in the UK.

SolarWall is in commercial use in UK and likely has more square metres of collectors in use for heating industrial buildings than solar water collectors – see http://www.CAGroup.ltd.uk

P 37 – Solar thermal

Solar thermal technologies collect heat from the sun onto a collector which transfers the heat energy to a working liquid. This liquid can then be used directly to provide hot water within a building, or an exchanger can transfer the heat from the working liquid to the water.

Solar thermal panels (liquid filled flat plate or evacuated tube solar collectors) will be eligible for support.

Air panels are not eligible even though air in buildings can be solar heated directly and not via expensive solar water panels and heat exchangers.

Government is picking winners and losers as they are supporting only expensive solar technologies and excluding lower cost solar air systems

P 40 – Direct air heating

Technologies which deliver renewable heat directly through hot/warm air will not be supported in the RHI from the outset. This means technologies such as ground or water source to air heat pumps; biomass kilns; furnaces; ovens and air heaters will not be able to claim the RHI. We will, however, look at whether and how these technologies could be included in the RHI from 2012.

There are a number of reasons for not including these technologies from the start of the scheme, which are primarily practical. Our methodology is to meter the heat generated and pay the RHI on that basis, however, there are practical difficulties with metering direct air heating, rather than water and steam. Furthermore, there is insufficient evidence of the costs of these technologies on which to base the RHI tariffs.

Conserval is monitoring solar air systems around the world and other governments (USA, Canada, France etc) are able to monitor solar air systems.

P 42 – Technologies and fuels excluded from the scheme

Transpired solar thermal panels

A small number of stakeholders have argued that direct air heating or transpired solar panels should be supported under the RHI. These technologies will not be included as they are not counted as a renewable technology under the RED.

How can solar heating of air not be a renewable technology?

This is the most damming statement for the Minister and if left as is, and it will certainly come back to haunt him. SolarWall is the most cost effective solar thermal technology for heating buildings currently available and it is being manufactured and sold in UK and in many other countries.

By John Hollick, CEO

Conserval Engineering Inc, SolarWall

RenewableEnergyWorld – The Biggest CO2 Bang for the Buck

by Victoria Hollick, SolarWallA landmark study on the true cost to taxpayers of the most common « green » initiatives was released earlier this year from the preeminent C.D. Howe Institute in Canada. The information, empirical studies and analysis contained within the report are so relevant to the stated objectives of practically every government that it is surprising that this report did not attract widespread coverage. Crafting policy to maximize CO2 displacement is a stated objective of almost every level of government, and crafting policy to cost-effectively maximize CO2 displacement should be the guiding principal behind all this green legislation. But is that happening? The C.D. Howe Institute crunches the numbers and concludes that it is not.So what is going on?In its report, Going Green for Less: Cost-Effective Alternative Energy Sources, the C.D. Howe Institute has surveyed all the “common” renewable energy programs that governments seem to favor (the example used was Canada). What they have concluded is that government money is being disproportionally directed towards high-cost CO2 mitigation technologies while underfunding the technologies that actually offer the lowest cost CO2 mitigation. (i.e the most expensive and lower-impact technologies receive the most government money, while the least expensive technologies that have much better CO2 displacement potential receive the least amount of support)

This is something that should perplex economists and taxpayers alike.

The C.D. Howe Institute identifies that the lowest-cost and highest-value programs are the “Renewable Heat and Power Technologies,” which include solar air heating, solar water heating, solar electricity, wind and biomass. The cost to the government (and therefore taxpayers) to displace one ton of CO2 from any of these technologies ranges from CAN $4 per ton (for solar air heating) to CAN $30 per ton (for biomass). In stark contrast, the most expensive government programs were for liquid biofuels; these cost taxpayers CAN $295 to $430/ton of CO2 displaced from ethanol and CAN $122 to $175/ton of CO2 displaced from biodiesel.

The graphs below summarize the cost in Canadian dollars to offset one ton of CO2 from each of the different “green” energy options. It is important to note that the analysis and conclusions were based on the existing Canadian programs, but the findings have universal relevance because they expose the basic cost / benefit realities of the different renewable energy options.

Some Facts on the Real Breakdown of Energy Usage

These graphs highlight that the most cost-effective form of CO2 abatement is from solar, and specifically the lowest cost option to governments is from unglazed solar air heating technologies. Solar air heating systems heat ventilation and indoor air, which also happens to be the largest — typically overlooked — usage of energy in any heating or mid-latitude climate. (For more information on this topic, see my previous article on RenewableEnergyWorld.com)

In Canada, here are some relevant facts to consider on the actual production of CO2:

  • In 2006, a total of 721 MT (million metric tons) of CO2 were produced in Canada.
  • 217 MT were from thermal energy sources for space and process heating in the manufacturing/industrial, services and residential sectors. This is the largest single source of CO2 in Canada.
  • Transportation was responsible for 159 MT
  • Electricity production for 113 MT

With respects to the 217 MT of CO2 produced from heating: Thermal heating generates over 30% of the CO2 emissions in Canada yet it receives approximately 1% of the money allocated by the federal government to GHG mitigation. It is also interesting to note that even in a city such as NYC, which has the densest concentration of electricity usage in the world, 51% of the energy required in buildings is for heating.

This means that widespread CO2 reductions are not going to be achievable unless the appropriate programs are put in place to address this large source of CO2.

The C.D. Howe Report states:

Federal programs to support renewable heat are currently limited even though heat-related energy applications — such as residential and commercial space and hot water heating and thermal energy for industrial processes — account for the largest proportion of demand for fossil fuel energy in Canada, as in other industrialized countries, and, therefore, represent a very large opportunity for the mitigation of GHG emissions. So far, only $36 million in federal funding is designated for capital cost incentives for renewable heat in the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors through the ecoENERGY for Renewable Heat program.” [Emphasis mine]

So what does this mean?

Simply stated, for all the governments that are crafting climate change policies and programs — and who wish their programs to actually be successful at both maximizing CO2 displacement and doing it in a cost effective manner — this report provides the rationale as to why it is essential to direct more funds to renewable heating. Given that there are solar heating technologies on the market that can displace up to 50% of the heating load, the potential for igniting meaningful CO2 emission reductions from this one sector is incredible.

Governments must clearly navigate through the maze of misinformation that tends to plague discussions on energy and recognize the true origins of CO2 emissions and the real costs associated with the myriad of displacement options. They must then commit to allocating real resources and to developing real mechanisms to target the thermal heating component, given that it offers the most compelling cost/benefit analysis when compared against all the other “green” energy solutions. This is a strategy that will offer not only “good value” for cash-conscious governments and taxpayers, but for the entire environmental movement. There are some staggering quantities of CO2 reductions that governments around the world have committed to and there are clearly substantial fiscal and budgetary implications for generations to come between solutions that cost under $5/ton or $10-30 a ton; and those that cost hundreds of dollars per ton of CO2 displaced. The C.D. Howe Report makes clear where taxpayer money should be spent to get the biggest CO2 bang for each buck spent.

Victoria Hollick is the President of Conserval Systems (SolarWall USA) of Buffalo NY, which has been instrumental in commercializing and promoting solar air heating around the world for the commercial & industrial sector with the SolarWall® air heating technologies. Victoria has had a life-long interest in solar, and became further interested in effecting environmental and renewable energy policy while completing a graduate degree in economics. She is also on the Board of Directors of the New York Solar Energy Industry Association (NYSEIA) and the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA).

*And as a final caveat to the C.D. Howe report, which was focused on Canada, Victoria would like to point out that while drastically increasing the support for solar heating is a necessity to cost-effectively reduce GHG emissions across the globe, at least Canada should be strongly commended for having a specific national solar thermal program in place. This program has been successful in terms of building an industry and has spawned Canadian innovation in the field of solar air and water heating technologies.

View original article on RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Learn about solar air heating at SolarAirHeating.org

SolarAirHeating.org is an excellent resource for information on the various solar air heating options, technical reports, government studies, etc. goto www.solarairheating.org