On the 16th of January, the Swedish Green Party launched a plan comprising six actions to address the energy crisis, and supporting the deployment of solar heat technology is at the top of the list. The Green Party believes that solar heat can effectively contribute to clean heat production for both residential buildings and district heating networks.
The proposal from the Green Party comes after the Swedish Energy Agency released a report in December 2021, addressing large-scale solar heat in Sweden and showing that solar heat will be profitable in all smaller district heating networks that currently burn pellets during summer. The cost estimates, which aim for 2035, also show that with rising biofuel prices, it can become profitable with up to 6 TWh of solar heat in the Swedish district heating networks.
An unexpected result of the cost calculations is that seasonal storage of solar heat from summer to winter also improves the district heating system so that more waste heat can be used. In total, solar thermal and seasonal storage can profitably reduce the combustion of fuels in district heating networks by 12 TWh in a favorable situation.
Solar Heat Europe’s member, Absolicon, has contributed to the report by participating in a reference group.
“It is good that the Swedish Energy Agency is now showing the enormous potential of large-scale solar heat in Sweden. In one of the report’s scenarios, solar heating will be profitable in almost all of Sweden’s district heating networks. Our calculations show that this would correspond to €1,5-2 billion in solar heat investments in Sweden,” says Joakim Byström, Absolicon’s CEO.
At a panel discussion organised by the Swedish Solar Energy and Energy Companies after the release of the report, the Green Party’s energy policy spokesperson, Lorenz Tovatt, mentioned that similar support like the one solar photovoltaic had received in Sweden, with investment covering 50% of the costs, could be an appropriate example to apply in order to deploy more large-scale solar heat systems in Sweden.
Bengt Söderberg, an energy analyst at Absolicon, studies the energy policies of different countries and the effects of reducing the use of fossil fuels. Even if the focus has been on renewable electricity with large subsidies for wind power and solar photovoltaic, now there are also major investments in renewable heating solutions such as solar thermal.
“In Europe, countries such as Germany, France, and Austria have invested in introducing large-scale solar heat into district heating networks. There you can see that the market for solar heat is growing rapidly when politicians put incentives into the heating sector”, says Bengt Söderberg.
The Green Party’s announcement may be the first step for Sweden to join the group of countries that are investing massively in solar district heating networks instead of continuing to burn fossil fuels for heat production.