Large-scale solar thermal systems are a cost-efficient technology to provide renewable heat. The rapid market growth in the last decade has been concentrated on a small number of countries, with the outstanding position of Denmark followed by China, Germany and Austria. This paper provides a comprehensive overview of the market and common technological solutions for large-scale solar thermal systems in these countries. Country-specific factors, including solar resources, heat supply systems, competing technologies, promotion schemes and business models, which put these countries in a leading role, are analyzed in detail using an integrated assessment framework. For each country, a best practice solar heating system is introduced. The analysis shows that heat supply by large-scale solar thermal systems is a mature technology with a broad field of applications and that mainly country-specific boundary conditions regarding the heat supply system and incentive policy are responsible for the preeminent role of these four countries. The unique role of district heating utilities in Denmark, which are subject to a national emissions trading system and often act both as investors and operators of large-scale solar thermal systems, can serve as a role model for other countries.
- Large-scale solar thermal systems
- Renewable heat
- Cost efficiency
- Energy policy
- Country analysis