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Solar AiR Marks for the Food Industry

Food Quality Magazine Jan. 2016 Issue 1 (P.16)

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Article text:

The benefits of using solar energy in the processing of food products is gaining traction in both the agricultural community and with end-use consumers who ascribe a premium to such products.

Solar air heating systems are used in different configurations around the world to produce hot air that can be used for space heating or for process heat purposes. This specific use – solar process drying – is becoming more popular in the agricultural community as it provides a clean energy solution to producing high quality food products.

Consider that many of the world’s most important crops need to be dried to remove moisture as part of the production process. Removing the moisture from crops such a coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa, nuts, fruit, rice, spices, corn, etc. is an essential process that helps transform the raw goods into the final product. It is also extremely resource intensive when using mechanical drying methods that rely on wood, propane or oil.  In more traditional drying operations, it is common for produce to be passively air-dried in the sun, which takes significantly longer than mechanical drying and can lead to a higher rate of spoilage, mycotoxins and uneven moisture levels. (suite…)

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…)

Major International Labor Union Joins SAHWIA to Help Promote Solar Air Heating

Désolé, cet article est seulement disponible en Anglais Américain.

(English) Sun & Wind Energy Magazine – Solar Thermal – Solar Air Collectors Poised for Growth

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

Canada: Solar Air Heating is strongest Sector

View the full article on SolarThermalWorld

By: Baerbel Epp

2010 was a good year for the solar thermal industry in Canada. The total newly installed collector area (brown line) grew by 54 %, from 129,418 to 199,491 m2. Air collector sales (red line) doubled and – for the first – overtook the solar swimming pool market (blue line), which is more or less stagnating. With 150 %, the segment of glazed solar water collectors (pink line) experienced the highest growth, although the 20,000 m2 sold in 2010 make it still a low-level market.

Source: NRCan

This time, the annual Survey of Active Solar Thermal Collectors, Industry and Markets in Canada 2010 published by National Resources Canada (NRCan) can show off some superlatives: Total collector sales, including domestic and export, amounted to 252,146 m2, finally exceeding 200,000 m2 . The same picture with the collector area in operation: it has now surpassed 1 million. According to the NRCan statistics, there were 1,033,864 m² of collector area in operation in the country by the end of 2010.

The survey included the filled-in questionnaires from 29 companies in Canada. “However, only 21 companies responded in both years, with eight companies dropping out, and eight new ones added,” the study’s author Dr Reda Djebbar from Natural Resources Canada names a weak point in the study’s conclusions, which makes comparisons between two different years somewhat difficult.

And, what about the forecast for 2011? A majority of the companies still anticipate growing sales in the near future. “However, there is a strong polarisation in the industry, with larger companies being pessimistic, and smaller companies showing optimism,” Djebbar analyses in the study. The author sees a pessimistic mood on the rise in the Canadian solar thermal industry: “The number of companies expecting either no growth or a decline has increased from 0% in 2007 to 20% in 2008, 26% in 2009 and then to 36% in 2010”. The planned end of the ecoEnergy for Renewable Heat programme in March 2011 contributes to the pessimistic forecast of some industry players. The solar pool heating market, on the other hand, has been unaffected by the lack of subsidies.

Another event which has recently weakened the solar thermal market: the elections in the province of Ontario in October 2011. Re-elected Ontario Prime Minister Dalton McGuinty had announced during his campaign that the feed-in tariff for solar electricity would continue under the Green Energy Act, which means that Ontario’s solar thermal industry will keep staying in the shadow of photovoltaics. This has a strong influence on the market, because Ontario has been the market leader among the provinces, reporting 55 % of all sales (by revenue) in 2010.

Still, Canada has established itself as the world leader in solar air heating usage. The largest air collector manufacturer in the country, Conserval Engineering, pointed out earlier this year, “that it is a big mistake in the European legislation not to consider solar air heating systems as a renewable heating technology”. Apparently, the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED) 2009/28/EC actually excludes solar air heating units from the list of approved solar technologies. “The error came to light when the UK government recently introduced its Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which specifically excluded solar air heating,” Conserval explained in a press release in July 2011. Greg Barker, Great Britain´s Minister of State from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, is quoted in the press release, saying: “The RHI will only include technologies which the European Commission considers to be renewable under the RED.”

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.

Europe Will Not Meet 20% Renewable Energy Target by 2020

Europe will not be able to meet its obligation to supply 20% of its energy from renewable energy by 2020, states John Hollick, CEO of SolarWall Europe, Sarl. and Chairman of the Solar Air Heating World Industries Association (SAHWIA) due to an error in definition made by the European Parliament.

The operations of buildings – heating, powering and cooling them – account for the largest source of GHG emissions, which helps to explain the rationale for the European Union’s 20% Renewable Energy Target.

In an inexplicable turn of events, Europe’s Renewable Energy Directive has actively excluded solar air heating from its list of approved solar technologies, despite the fact that it addresses the largest usage of building energy in many countries, which is indoor space and process heating.

The exclusion is even more perplexing given that solar air heating technologies produce the fastest ROI of any solar technology and have been widely used in countries and applications around the world, including a very strong concentration in Canada and the USA, for the past 20 years for clients such as Sainsbury, Auchan, Wal-Mart, Ford, Jaguar/Land Rover, Toyota, and the United States Military.

The error came to light when the UK government recently introduced its Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which specifically excluded solar air heating. When the omission was brought to the attention of Greg Barker, Minister of State for Green Energy including Heat and RHI, his department responded with: “The primary objective of the RHI is to encourage the installation of renewable heating equipment and generation of renewable heat in order to meet the UK’s share of the EU 2020 renewable energy target. Therefore, the RHI will only include technologies which the European Commission considers to be renewable under the RED.”

The implication is that the UK and the rest of Europe will be unable to meet their 20% Renewable Energy Target by 2020 because they have no mechanism in place now to target space heating in the commercial, industrial and agricultural sectors.

As well, solar electric (PV) and solar water heating systems are considerably more expensive and produce less energy in comparison to solar air heating systems, so the decision to exclude a solar energy technology that is significantly more cost-effective for end user clients is difficult to understand, especially in an era of tight budgets and fiscal restraint.

It also contradicts the stated objectives of the UK’s RHI: “We need to work hard to remove the barriers holding back take-up…This support can help drive take-up of renewables now, stimulate the renewables industry, encourage further innovation and ultimately bring down the cost of renewable heating.”

Unfortunately the RHI will do the opposite. “Viable solar air heating systems are being excluded in lieu of more expensive water base heating systems just because they are on the “list”. As well as stifling innovation and preventing the widespread uptake in solar heating, this decision will ensure that the UK will be unable to meet their stated renewable energy targets because they are relying on expensive technologies that don’t address one of the largest usages of energy” states Hollick.

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