Right on time for the opening of the 4th International Solar District Heating Conference in Billund, the host country Denmark reached a magical barrier: more than one Million square meters solar collectors are now installed there. The Danish District Heating Association counted exactly 1 003 024 square meters at the beginning of the Conference on Wednesday, 21st September, in a total of 85 district heating networks supported by solar thermal energy.
180 international experts from 20 countries – also this is a record number – have met for the 4th International Solar District Heating Conference in order to benefit from the experience of this leading country. They were not only impressed by the top-class presentations and technical tours to some of the world largest solar collector plants, but could also admire a reduced-scale model of such a plant in Legoland Billund, where the Conference took place. This solar collector plant made in Lego bricks represents the plant from Braedstrup, with which the world-wide unique boom of the Danish XXL solar thermal plants began, approximately ten years ago.
Large-scale solar thermal plants can compete today with all forms of fossil fuels. The sector reaches heat prices from 3 to 5 cents pro kWh, provided that the plant is large enough. And they are always getting larger: in Silkeborg in Central Denmark the new record plant is currently under construction with 156 000 m² and a nominal power of 110 Megawatt. But the world’s market leader Denmark is not the only country in which solar thermal plants in such dimensions are developing. In the Austrian city of Graz, plans are being made for a plant of even more impressive dimensions: 450 000 m² solar thermal collectors should supply the district heating network of the second largest city of the Alpine Republic to cover 20% of the heat demand.