China increases solar thermal business 12-fold since 2005

Within 6 years, the Chinese solar thermal industry increased its export business 12-fold, from USD 20 million in 2005 to USD 250 million in 2010, Solrico (Bielefeld, Germany) reports.

In 2011, the newly installed collector area in China has jumped up another 18% to 57.6 million m² (40.3 GWth). Putting the focus on solar technology has proven to be the right step: Nowadays, significantly more new solar water heaters are being installed per year than gas or electric water heaters.

These and other market figures were presented by the retired head of the China Solar Thermal Industry Federation (CSTIF), Zhentao Luo, during the IEA SHC roadmap workshop in Beijing in November 2011.

Chinese solar thermal market grows in cities as well as in rural regions

According to Luo’s presentation, “China’s Solar Thermal Industry Development Status and Prospects”, the national solar thermal market has grown remarkably in urban areas. The share of city-wide installations has increased from 40% in 2010 to an estimated 45% in 2011. The other half of the market is concentrated in the rural regions.

The Chinese solar energy market is still dominated by residential hot water applications. “There are no more than 10 solar cooling systems currently running in China,” professor Luo says, who also counted “around 100 solar space heating systems in operation or under construction”. This sector received support by the government between 2006 and 2008. “359 solar projects received financial support from the central government, 41% of them were solar heating installations. The grant level was between 50 and 100 RMB per m2 floor space (6 to 12 EUR/m2) when using a solar combi system.