Country Report - Germany

Status of Solar Heating/Cooling and Solar Buildings - 2019

Status of the Market for Solar Thermal Systems

Market Size and Trends

2018 was another year of market decline in the German solar thermal sector, only 0.57 million m² were newly installed. The total collector area installed in 2018 is around 20.5 million m² in approx. 2.36 million solar thermal systems with a thermal capacity of 14.4 GW (March 2019; BSW-solar The majority of the solar thermal market still consists of collector arrays on single or two-family houses. Overall, it can be observed that there is an increasing market for solar district heating grids as well as for solar process heat systems. Think big: A growing solar district heating market has been created. A rising awareness of utilities is to be registered. Today 34 large-scale solar thermal plants with a total capacity of 44 MWth are feeding their heat into district heating systems in Germany. But project development is time consuming and lasts at least 3 up to 5 years. New solar district heating systems will be installed within the next few years (in realization 21,000 m², in preparation 133,000 m²). Broad marketing measures are planned within the context of the project “SOLNet4.0” within the next 2 years. Integration of solar thermal systems into heating network systems is expected to expand but remains ambitious, as nearly all heating networks operate at temperatures from 80° to 130°C requiring high efficient collectors. At the end of August 2016, the biggest solar- thermal installation in Germany with 8,300 m² and about 4,000 MWh annual heat yield went into operation on a former refuse site in Senftenberg in the Lausitz region of eastern Germany. The Senftenberg utilities (Stadtwerke Senftenberg GmbH) project is one of the biggest installations with vacuum tube collectors worldwide and at the same time the first large-scale installation to supply a public district heating network. Senftenberg marks an important milestone. Other district heating systems are known in Chemnitz-Brühl, Hennigsdorf in the context of R&D projects. An even bigger SDH system will be developed shortly in Ludwigsburg (collector field with a gross area of 14,800 m²). Solar assisted bioenergy villages are in vogue: So called “energy villages”, smaller communities in rural areas, switch from de-central heating oil boilers in every single house to small district heating networks, using renewable energy sources. Solar thermal plants supply for the entire heating demand in summer, often combined with large biomass boilers for the winter periods. In 2013, the first solar district heating plant of this type went in operation in the village of Büsingen in the south-western part of Germany. Another eight plants followed, five of them in the year 2018 (Hengsberg (3,000 m²), Randegg (2,400 m²), Liggeringen (1,100 m²), Ellern (1,245 m²), Hallerndorf (1,300 m², Moosach 1,067 m², Schluchsee in planning phase 3,000 m²)). At present systems for process heat with overall 33,000 m² are in operation. Most of them has been installed mainly in SME (mainly in the range of 20 – 40 m², one third 40 – 100 m²). The new technical guideline “VDI-Richtlinie 3988 Solarthermische Prozesswärme“ will be published in summer 2019. In Germany, 60% of the heating demand and nearly 35% of the final energy consumption are used in applications below 100°C for space heating, domestic hot water and process heating and heating networks. An ambitious expansion goal of the German Solar Heating Roadmap is to increase the share of solar heating in the requirements and regulations for households from around 1% in 2015 to approximately 8% in 2030. In German industry (heat requirement up to 100°C) the solar fraction shall rise from nearly 0% today to 10% in 2030. These are largely determined by the key targets of energy policy: halving primary energy consump¬tion by 2050 compared with 2008 and achieving a renew¬ables ratio of 60% to gross final energy consumption. Through almost complete decarbonisation, the energy sec¬tor must additionally help ensure that Germany is largely greenhouse-gas neutral by 2050.

Typical Applications and Products

The most typical applications are still small systems for domestic hot water and space heating for one and two-family houses. Approximately 30% of newly installed systems are for space heating systems and 70% for DHW (domestic hot water). 80% of the new installations are combined with new heating systems (data base 2016). Growing markets with great potential ar in the filed of solar process heat for industrial applications and solar district heating systems and smart solar thermal grids (see above). In the last three years several large solar thermal systems were installed as demonstration projects: • The largest solar thermal system in Germany has 8,300 m² in Senftenberg (see above) with vacuum tube collectors and direct grid integration. The temperature which is to deliver is 85°C in summer and up to 105°C in winter. In the first year of operation 4.1 GWh were delivered (predicted value 3.8 GWh). • In Crailsheim 7,500m² collector area for district heating and a 39,000 m³ seasonal borehole thermal energy storage were installed with flat plate collectors and will be optimized in the next few years with higher efficient collectors. • In Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg the heating network for app. 3,000 households is supported by a 1,348 m² CPC-vacuum tube collector field and a 2,000 m³ buffer tank. The guaranteed solar heat is 600 MWh/year. This project was a part of the International Building Exhibition 2013 and was awarded the European Solar Prize 2013. The financial model is heat contracting between Hamburg Energy and IBA as owner. • Büsingen (near Konstanz and close to Switzerland) is Germany´s first solar assisted bioenergy village. More than 1,000 m² CPC vacuum tube collectors are integrated in a newly installed heating network together with biomass heating. Heat energy price is less than 40 €/MWh.

Main Market Drivers

Beside the environmental awareness of the population, the main market drivers in Germany are the European and national building regulations for nearly zero emission buildings in 2020. In Germany, this is being achieved through regulation with the Energy Savings Ordinance (EnEV) to reduce energy consumption and the Renewable Energies Heat Act (EEWärmeG) to use renewable energy. Both directives will be merged in a new “Gebäudeenergiegesetz”, process is still ongoing. The building regulations are a key driver for building integration of solar systems especially active and adaptive facade systems. A main barrier are the current low prices for gas and oil and the decline in prices of photovoltaics and the trend to electric heating systems with heatpumps as well as the higher funding rates for PV or combined heat and power (CHP) (feed-in-tariffs).


The German solar thermal industry had a turnover of app. 0.70 billion € (data base 2016). According to BSW-solar´s strategy document “Solar Thermal Roadmap” it could even rise to 3 billion € by 2030. This will only be the case, however, if system prices fall by 50% by 2030. There are approx. 140 medium-sized manufacturers and suppliers as well as 86 distributers of solar thermal components. The export quota was found to be greater than 50%. The German value creation rate is 75% (data base 2016). The market leader for large scale systems for solar heating network integration and process heat integration is the company Ritter XL Solar GmbH and Viessmann. Solar thermal systems are marketed tripartite. This, in comparison to PV, is one of the reasons that the consumer prices are much higher than the manufacturing costs


The German solar thermal industry employed around 20,000 people in 2016, including installers and distributers (data base 2016).


The costs for solar thermal energy in Germany range between 10-15 Cent/kWh for hot water and space heating in single and multi-family houses and 5-10 Cent/kWh for large scale systems. The specific system costs run between 500 - 1,100 €/m² (data base 2016).

Costs differ between small and large scale solar systems as well as between systems for domestic hot water and space heating or large systems with and without seasonal storage. For large solar process heating systems and solar assisted heating grids costs from 4-7 Cent/kWh have been realized, 5-3 Cent/kWh could be reached. The main target for solar thermal energy is to reach gas-parity.

Two ambitious R&D projects focus on cost reduction: “KOST” and “TEWISOL”. Results will be discussed in springtime 2019.

University of Kassel presented its learning curve of solar thermal systems in Germany on the Solar World Congress in Abu Dhabi 2017: learning rate of DHW systems is 18 %, of Combi systems 8 %.

The goal of the German solar heating roadmap is to reduce the costs of a solar heating system by a total of 50% by the year 2030. Cost reduction of solar thermal systems is one of the main targets of R&D.

Other Key Topics

Other key topics are: Pre-configured and standardized and simplified quick assembly of the components to reduce installation costs and installation errors Advanced building integration and system integration of solar heat and solar power (PV, PVT) Solar active houses with higher (up to 100%) solar fraction for heat and power for single and multi-family houses

Status of the Market for Solar Buildings


In Germany, all types of solar technologies for buildings and industry are subject to research, demonstration and market activities. Continuity in national funding schemes for R&D is guaranteed by the 7th Energy research programme of the German government. The buildings and neighbourhoods sector comprises a broad range of R&D topics. In the course of sector coupling, buildings and neighbourhoods will in future have to interact more with the power and also trans¬port system, because linking the building infrastructure with energy supply in the transport sector, using vehicles as storage units for locally produced renewable energies, for example, can contribute to improving the climate foot¬print and energy efficiency. With regards to the energy transition initiated by the German Government in 2011, the main objective is to reduce primary energy demand, to generate most of the demand on site and to reflect energy efficiency in the buildings whole life-cycle. The grid friendly net-zero-energy-building is the main focus. The goal requires a proper building design, the integration of different new advanced technologies and the optimized control of the heating system.

Market Size and Trends

So called “passive houses” are popular, approximately 25,000 units were built in Germany according to the “passive house standard” (, 10% of these certified by the passive house institute (data base 2016). By the end of 2016, more than 2,200 solar active houses, so-called “Sonnenhäuser” (so called “sunhouses”) had been built in Germany. Additionally efficiency house plus initiative is worth to mention: grid connected PV provides electricity for a heat pump based heating system and power for appliances. The main problem is the higher primary energy demand as this concept needs electricity from the grid in wintertime.

Main Market Drivers

Again, the main market drivers are the European building regulations until 2020 and the German Energy Savings Ordinance (EnEV). PV also is a barrier for solar thermal technology on buildings. Economically very attractive feed-in-tariffs for PV installation cannot be achieved through the public funding for solar thermal systems.


There is no information available at this time.


Since the last few years there is a new subject of focus, “economic viability”, within the accompanying research model projects (construction costs, building usage costs and lifecycle costs, as well as the associated optimization potential in regards to minimized CO2 emissions).

R&D Activities

R&D Programmes

German energy research is a strategic element of German energy policy and is indispensable for the long-term success of the energy transition. Since 2014, the funding is concentrated in the new Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. R&D for solar thermal and for solar buildings is part of the Energy research Programme of the German Federal Government ( In April 2016, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy together with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research started a new R&D-Programme for "Solar buildings and energy efficient cities/ areas" with a budget of 150 million € for 3 years. The input based on recommendations of about 500 experts in the research network. 6 milestone projects have been started in city districts. In preparation for the 7th Energy Research Programme, the Economic Affairs Ministry engaged in a broad-based consultation process in 2017. Numerous stakeholders from academia, commerce, civil society and the Länder participated in this, submitting position papers and expert recommendations. The results were presented to the public in February 2018. The 7th Energy Research Programme defines the current principles and priorities for Federal Government for an environmentally-friendly, reliable and affordable energy supply funding for innovative energy technology. In September 2018, the Federal Cabinet adopted the 7th Energy Research Programme entitled “Innovations for the Energy Transition”. It contains the guidelines for energy research funding in the coming years. In the context of the 7th Energy Research Programme, the Federal Government is making around €7 billion available for projects. In addition to specific technologies, funding is made available for overarching, cross-sector issues such as energy efficiency, reduction of consumption, sector coupling and digitisation. This contributes to ensuring a holistic funding approach. Thanks to the innovative funding format of ‘living labs’, the energy system of the future can already be tested today. The results and experience serve as a blueprint for the actual practical implementation. At the same time, more funding is planned to be made available to start-ups, which are essential to provide fresh impetus to the energy transition. It is essential that research is closely linked at European and international level. For this reason, cooperation with international organisations will be expanded and scientific exchange will be promoted. Furthermore, the improvement of the capacity to export and of the competitiveness plays an important role. Since the launch of the 1st Energy Research Programme in 1977, the Federal Government has invested around €12 billion to fund over 17,300 non-nuclear energy research projects. Active solar thermal systems for different solar thermal applications such as water and space heating and cooling, solar district heating and storages are included in the sub-program “Energy optimized buildings and areas”, solar process heat is includes in the sub-program “commerce, trade, services sector and industry”. In 2019 we look back on 25 years R&D in solar energy. R&D started with the support programmes “Solarthermie 2000” and “2000plus” with pilot and demo systems. In recent years, it has delivered impressive results. In November 2015, on the side-lines of the Paris Climate Change Agreement (COP21), the initiative Mission Innova¬tion was established, whose members now include 23 states and the European Union. The member states, including Germany, have committed to double public investment in research and development for clean energies within five years.

R&D Infrastructure

R&D Institutions
Institution Type of Institution Relevant Research Areas IEA SHC Involvement Website
TU Berlin University daylighting, electric lighting 50
TU Braunschweig University solar buildings, active solar thermal systems, thermal energy storage -
ISE Freiburg Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft PV, solar thermal systems; solar buildings; energy economics, urban energy system modelling 39,43,44 47,48,49,50,51, 52, 53, 54, 56, 57
ZAE Bayern Garching Solar Institute of the State active solar thermal, thermal energy storage 42,48, 53, 58
ISFH Hameln Solar Institute of the State PV, active and passive solar thermal 44,49
KIT Karlsruhe University / Helmholtz-Institut energy efficient building, energy economics 51
Uni Kassel University solar process heat, thermal energy storage, monitoring 49
DLR Köln Helmholtz-Institut solar thermal concentrator technologies 39,46,49, 55
HFT Stuttgart University energy systems for communities 44,48,49,51
IBP Stuttgart Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft building research, low energy buildings, day lighting 40,47,50, 56
Universität Stuttgart University active solar thermal, thermal energy storage 43,44,45, 54, 55, 57
BU Wuppertal University energy efficient building, energy economics, sustainable mediated urban planning 40,51
TU Dresden University heating grids 55
TU Chemnitz University heating grids, thermal energy storage 55
Universität Saarland Unniversity energy system, digitalization, automatization 60

Actual Innovations

Market: Solar water and space heating, large solar systems > 100 m² collector area, low energy buildings, solar active houses with solar fraction > 50%, solar process heating systems for different industries 

Demonstration: Solar process heating, large scale solar thermal systems with seasonal and multifunctional storages, solar district heating systems, smart solar thermal grids, solar thermal absorption and adsorption cooling for small and medium outputs, combined solar/CHP-systems. Concentrating collector systems for process heating and cooling (PTC, Fresnel), solar facades, intelligent control systems for solar buildings.

Research: Advanced thermal storages with higher storage capacity (PCM/PCS, TCM); PVT-systems with optimized heat and power output; New collector and storage materials; Cost reduction for solar thermal systems through standardization and plug&play- installations; Development of accelerated aging tests for solar thermal collectors and their components depending from location and different extreme climates; System integration for solar process heat, building integrated modelling, advanced building integrated photovoltaics and solar thermal power

Support Framework


“Energiewende” means a drastic transition of the energy system. The goal of reducing CO2 emissions by at least 80% by the year 2050 relative to 1990 levels can only be reached if a clear shift to renewable energy sources in the heating sector combined with a reduction of the energy demand occurs. After having made major progress in many areas, the energy transition is now entering a new phase. While the initial main concern was with expanding renewable ener¬gies and energy-efficient technologies, greater focus will now be placed on systemic issues. The goals are part of the National Action Plan of Energy Efficiency (NAPE) and the Energy Efficiencies Strategy for Buildings (ESG) of the German government and also part of the German Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV) and the German Renewable Energies Heat Act (EEWärmeG). Both directives, ENEV and EEWärmeG will be merged in a new “Gebäudeenergiegesetz”, process is still ongoing. Solar heating is a most natural and sustainable form of heat production. Solar heating should be an integral part of the heat supply system in the majority of residential buildings and areas. In the field of industrial process heat, solar heating contributes significantly to reducing the energy costs of companies. The strategic goal of the German Solar Heating Roadmap of the BSW-Solar is to achieve tremendous growth up to the year 2020 and then a breakthrough by 2030

Government Agencies Responsible for Solar Thermal, for Solar Building Activities

The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) coordinates the federal energy research. Project Management Jülich (PtJ) supports its clients in the German Federal Government and the federal states as well as the European Commission in implementing their research policy goals with a focus on project funding. This includes SHC on advanced new concepts and technologies to improve the energy efficiency and lower the specific primary energy demand of buildings in R&D projects for energy efficient and solar buildings and active solar thermal systems and thermal energy storages. The Federal Government has amalgamated the funding of research, development and demonstration measures for energy-efficient buildings and neighbourhoods in the research initiative, ENERGIEWENDEBAUEN (Energy transition construction). In addition to ongoing calls for pro¬posals and specialist portals, this also includes its own research network.

Most Important Public Support Measure(s) for Solar Thermal and for Solar Buildings

The most important support for solar thermal systems is the German Market Incentive Programme (MAP) for renewable heat. The funding depends on solar yield and quality assurance (solar keymark). By the end of 2017, a total of 1,2 Mio million projects (investment grants 1,46 billion ERU) had been supported. Since the beginning of 2019 funding for solar process heat systems is reorganised within the framework of „Richtlinie zur Förderung von Energieeffizienz und Prozesswärme aus erneuerbaren Energien in der Wirtschaft“.

Feasibility studies and realization for new generation of district heating systems (systems with supply temperatures of 20 to 95°C, 50 % renewable energies) are subsidized within the frame of “Wärmenetze 4.0” (

The R&D funding is part of the 7th Energy Research Programme “Innovations for the energy transition” of the German Federal Government

Information Resources

National Solar Associations (industry and non-industry)

The solar industry is represented in different associations:

  • German Renewable Energy Association (BEE)
  • German Solar Industry Association (BSW)
  • German Industry Association of Heating Technologies (BDH)
  • German Heat and Power Association (AGFW)

For research, important actors are:

  • Renewable Energy Research Association (FVEE) (
  • Working Group on Solar Thermal Technology ( (in the past German Solar Thermal Technology Platform; DSTTP)

National Associations on Green/Solar/Sustainable Buildings

  • German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB – Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen e.V.)
    Founded in 2007 by 16 initiators from various subject areas within the construction and real estate sectors. Their goal is to promote sustainable and economically efficient building even more strongly in the future
  • Passive House Institute (PHI) 
    Independent research institute that has played an especially crucial role in the development of the Passive House concept - the only internationally recognised, performance-based energy standard in construction
  • German Energy Agency
    Focuses on energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and intelligent energy systems at the interface between politics and business
  • Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt DBU (German Federal Environmental Foundation)
    One of Europe's largest foundations and promotes innovative and exemplary environmental projects 

Most Important Media for Solar Thermal and Solar Buildings

Federal Report on Energy Research: transparency for the Federal Government’s funding policy: The report is published every year and serves to give an extensive overview over the Federal Government's research promotion policy in the field of energy. Progress made and current trends in the field of research promotion are presented in the report in a transparent manner. The figures on project funding contained in the Federal Report on Energy Research are also made transparent by EnArgus, the central information system on energy research of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

The most important source for information and dissemination of research projects in solar thermal and solar buildings:

German Website on solar process heat: www.solare-prozesswä