Roadmap "Solar Heat 2025"- An analyse of technology and market combined with a recommendation of actions

The potential of solar thermal in a sustainable future energy system is huge, both from an energy policy and a social point of view. Within the scope of this roadmap the current technology and market will be analysed. On this base more than 100 focused action recommendations are shown and their possible effect is described in three different development scenarios.

Content Description


By the end of the year 2011 335.1 Million m² solar thermal collector capacity were installed which corresponds to a thermal power of 234.6 GWth. The worldwide absolutely largest installed capacity of flat plate collectors and evacuated tube collectors can be found in China (152.2 GWth), Germany (10.7 GWth) and Turkey (10.2 GWth) by the end of the year 2011. In comparison Austria achieved an installed collector capacity of around 3.3 GWth which refers to the eight place. The highest market penetration referring to the solar thermal power per 1.000 inhabitants can be found in Cyprus with 541.2 kWth and in Israel with 396.6 kWth. Directly followed by Austria on the third place with 355.7 kWth per 1,000 inhabitants.

This success story of solar thermal energy use in Austria has led to an excellent international position of Austrian companies demonstrated by an export rate of 81% of totally produced collectors (1.14 Mio. m²) in the year 2012. The market share of Austrian collectors in the year 2012 in the EU-27 (and Switzerland) represented approx. 33%. The sales volume in the year 2012 was 345 Mio. Euro and offered 3,400 full time jobs. Altogether a reduction of 460,000 tons CO2äqu could be reached by solar thermal systems in operation.

Despite the potentials and the very successful years for Austrian's solar thermal industry (particularly the years between 1990 and 2008) the average yearly market volume for new installations in Europe (EU-27) and also in Austria shrank during the last four years. While the average worldwide market growth rate amounted by approx. 20%. The reduced installation rate refers by main parts to the economy crisis and the photovoltaic-hype. This has led to a strong economic pressure on the European solar thermal industry. Competition among renewable energy sources as well as modified frame conditions support this situation.

Referring to this background three concrete questions are of main importance to Austrians solar thermal companies:

  • How can the mentioned market decline turned into a stable market growth again (time frame 2013 to 2025 and further to 2050)?
  • What are practicable actions to make this turnaround and which groups of stakeholders are affected?
  • What is the contribution of solar heat in a sustainable energy supply system or in a "Low-Carbon-Economy" in Austria (till 2025 and further to 2050)?

Methods and treatment

Based on a detailed market analysis and several discussions with members of the Austrian solar thermal industry, other important stakeholders from the energy sector, three possible scenarios were developed.

The three scenarios differ in the certain intensity of activities and the development of external factors:

  • Scenario "Business as usual" (BAU)
  • Scenario "Forced activities"
  • Scenario "Ambitious activities"

For the next step four fields of actions ("trade sector activities", "research & development", "frame conditions", "accompanying measures") were defined and consolidated with the three created scenarios in certain intensities. In intensive exchange with the solar thermal industry over 100 provisions for strengthening and development of the technology were identified and proposed.

Of particular importance are activities to reduce the dependence of external factors for the market launch like consequent cost reduction (up to 60% for small systems till 2025 and up to 40% for large systems) and improvement of target group's acceptance. Furthermore, precise standardization works, specific research work, new distribution and business models and also suitable public funding and subsidy programs are essential.


Solar fractions were calculated in accordance to the development of Austrians lowtemperature heat demand. This is shown in two possible scenarios including the impact of the three scenarios continued till the year 2050. The calculations predict solar fractions which means the share of low-temperature heat demand covered by solar thermal systems from 1.5% to 2% in the "business as usual" scenario, 9.1% to 12.1% in the "forced activities" scenario and 14.4% to 20.3% in the "ambitious activities" scenario in the year 2050.


The results of the Austrian roadmap "Solarwärme 2025" show clearly that a turnaround by the yearly installed collector capacity is possible and that solar heat will play an important role in the future "Low-Carbon Economy" with high regional economic value if the solar thermal industry, public authorities, research & development and other stakeholders go a new way of ambitious solidarity.


AEE - Institute for Sustainable Technologies
"Solar thermal components and systems"
Ing. Christian Fink, Prokurist
Feldgasse 19
A-8200 Gleisdorf
Tel.: +43 (3112) 5886-214
Fax: +43 (3112) 5886-214 18