Solar thermal systems (STS) are a mature technology that has been successfully deployed in several countries for residential applications since the early 1980s. This IRENA/IEA-ETSAP Technology Brief provides technical background, analyses the potential and the barriers for market growth, and offers insights for policy makers on this key renewable energy technology.
Adopting STS makes sense in countries relying on gas or oil imports for heating, in growing economies where domestic use of electric boilers strains the electricity system, or where cooling demand is high during sunshine hours. As manufacturing industries for STS in some countries mature, a wider international market is opening up. International or regional certification schemes would strengthen the sector, providing quality assurance while taking market conditions into account.
Long-term mandates have helped to nurture sound, economically attractive STS markets. Government programmes to promote small, domestic solar water heating systems among low-income families or social housing projects have emerged as a way to reduce household energy costs, create jobs and meet rising energy demand with renewables. Extending low-interest loans or establishing solar-based district heating are other attractive options to further STS use.
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