The strong decline over the last two consecutive years has come to a halt in 2011, according to the annual solar thermal market statistics published by the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF).
While overall the European market was flat, at national level market conditions were very diverse. With 2.6 GW installed in 2011, the total installed capacity in Europe now amounts to 26.3 GW, generating an estimated 18.8 TWh of solar thermal energy. The European solar thermal industry had a turnover of around € 2.6 billion in 2011 and 32,000 people were employed full time.
Germany continued to be the sector’s driving force, while in 2011 Poland joined the group of markets above 140 MW (about 200,000 m²) of newly installed capacity. Some markets have been going through a difficult time, especially in Southern European countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal; however, Greece has bucked the trend with a slight market growth.
Large size systems for commercial heating and cooling applications and very large systems, used in solar assisted district heating or for industrial process heat, have shown positive developments. However, they could not offset the downturn experienced in most traditional market segments.