Solar Thermal Heats Up
Solar thermal heating-which harnesses the sun's energy for domestic water heating, space heating, and other industrial processes-expanded by 19 gigawatts of thermal equivalent (GWth) to reach 147 GWth of capacity in 2007. Solar thermal energy produced enough energy globally in 2007 to meet the equivalent heating needs of 15 percent of U.S. households.
According to the latest Vital Signs snapshot of solar thermal trends:
China, with the largest solar thermal heating market, has two thirds of global capacity and, despite a market downturn in 2007, accounted for 80 percent of newly installed systems that year.
In Rizhao, China, where about 99 percent of all households use solar water heating, the initial capital costs for solar water heaters are on a par with conventional electric systems, while lifecycle costs demonstrate annual savings of 3-6 percent of the average 2006 household income.
Heating accounts for more than two thirds of total energy use in buildings, which emit 30-40 percent of global greenhouse gases. Renewable heating resources like solar thermal energy displace conventional heating fuels, primarily natural gas and electricity.
This new solar thermal update includes the latest figures on global solar thermal heating capacity and share of global capacity by country.
Read the Vital Signs analysis, "Solar Thermal Heating Up Sharply."
Complete trends will soon be available with full endnote referencing, Excel spreadsheets, and customizable presentation-ready charts as part of our new subscription service, Vital Signs Online, slated to launch this fall.