Germany: Yield-dependent funding for solar thermal is off to a good start

Large solar thermal systems are still a small market segment. Funding in this sector is now also based on yield, not just on surface area. (Photo: Ritter)
Large solar thermal systems are still a small market segment. Funding in this sector is now also based on yield, not just on surface area. (Photo: Ritter)

On 1 April, Germany introduced yield-dependent funding for solar thermal systems. Even if the funding does not go as far as some had hoped, it is apparently enjoying a high level of acceptance.

In addition to the regular funding system, which is based on collector area, the market incentive programme (MAP) that was introduced in April provides funding based on the annual yield. According to information that has recently become available, 30% of all new applications for funding for large solar thermal systems are based on yield-dependent remuneration.

The important thing in this context is the adjective 'large'; this funding option is not yet available for small systems. In the sector for regular building-mounted systems, collector arrays between 20 and 100 m² are the only ones that can receive this funding.

A flat funding rate will be paid out based on a calculated annual collector yield in Würzburg in Bavaria. This information can be found on the SolarKeymark data sheet that every collector in Germany must have to be eligible for regular surface area-based funding. The Europe-wide data sheet also provides information on annual yield at the locations Athens, Davos and Stockholm, making it easier to compare yields across Europe.

One important detail is the fact that the term 'yield-dependent' is slightly misleading. Funding is based on a calculated value for the location Würzburg under clearly defined conditions, and that value may only indirectly correlate with the actual yield of the solar energy system.

The annual yield value on the data sheet provides solid information on the efficiency of the collector, and good solar collectors are certainly a prerequisite for achieving a high yield with a heating system. However, a complete system consists of many more components than just the collectors. Yield-dependent funding does not take the hydraulics, storage system, control system and various other factors into account.

For this reason, it would be more accurate to call it a funding programme for premium collectors because yield-dependent funding is only interesting if the collectors generate a relatively high annual yield.

There is currently just one formula for paying out yield-dependent funding. The annual collector yield is multiplied by € 0.45, and the result is the corresponding funding amount. It is not relevant whether the system is used only for hot water or in a combined system that also supports the heating system.

Jan Gesthuizen

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