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Funder: CASE - InvestNI
Duration: 30 September 2016 to 31 July 2018
Staff Involved: Dr A Zacharopoulos, Dr J Mondol, Dr MA Smyth

Space heating and domestic hot water in buildings accounts for about half of all energy use in Europe and generates significant CO2 emissions. Solar thermal systems have a significant role to play in reducing fossil fuel consumption as they can be installed on the building and supply heat directly to meet a proportion of its thermal energy demands. Low cost uncovered solar water heaters made from black plastic materials (~£20/m2) are popular for swimming pool heating but are unable to achieve sufficiently high temperatures for producing domestic hot water when located in cold and windy climates. Conventional solar water heaters typically cost ~£200/m2 and are constructed from selectively coated metal absorbers with glass covers (eg flat plate or evacuated tube collectors). These often compete with photovoltaic installations (PV) for roof space and are commonly perceived as being more complicated to install. Ongoing PV price reductions (£150/m2) and an increasing trend of utilizing excess electrical output for domestic hot water production has placed immense pressure on the market for solar thermal systems in Europe and North America.