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The IEA provides support for international collaboration on energy technology R&D, deployment and information dissemination. These groups function within a framework created by the IEA - the International Framework for International Energy Technology Collaboration. The views, findings and publications of these international groups (formally called Implementing Agreements) do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or of all its individual member countries. OECD Member countries, autonomous OECD non-member countries, intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental organisations and private sector entities may participate. For more information, see our Technology Agreements page.

Solar Heating and Cooling

Established in 1977, the SHC IA mission assumes a whole-building approach to the application of solar technologies and design.  Through international collaborative activities, the SHC IA supports market expansion by providing access to reliable information on solar system performance, data, design guidelines and tools, and by developing and integrating advanced solar energy technologies and design strategies for the built environment and for agricultural and industrial process heat applications. The Agreement's target audience is the design community, solar manufacturers, and the energy supply and service industries that serve the end-users and building owners.  The SHC IA collaborates with key players in the field including solar industry associations. 

Signatories : Australia | Austria | Belgium | Canada | China | Denmark | Finland | France | Germany | Italy | Mexico | Netherlands | Norway | Portugal | Singapore | South Africa | Spain | Sweden | Switzerland | United States | Commission of the European Union | ECOWAS Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) | Egypt |
For more information: http://www.iea-shc.org/

Current Projects (Annexes)

39. Polymeric Materials for Solar Thermal Applications
The objective of this Task is the assessment of the applicability and the cost-reduction potential by using polymeric materials and polymer based novel designs of suitable solar thermal systems and to promote increased confidence in the use of these products by developing and applying appropriate methods for assessment of durability and reliability.


40. Net Zero Energy Solar Buildings
The objective of the Task is to study current net-zero, near net-zero and very low energy buildings and to develop a common understanding, a harmonized international definitions framework, tools, innovative solutions and industry guidelines. A primary means of achieving this objective is to document and propose practical NZEB demonstration projects, with convincing architectural quality. These exemplars and the supporting sourcebook, guidelines and tools are viewed as keys to industry adoption. These projects will aim to equalize their small annual energy needs, cost-effectively, through building integrated heating/cooling systems, power generation and interactions with utilities. The planned outcome of the Task is to support the conversion of the NZEB concept from an idea into practical reality in the marketplace. The Task source book and the datasets will provide realistic case studies of how NZEBs can be achieved. Demonstrating and documenting real projects will also lower industry resistance to adoption of these concepts. The Task will build upon recent industry experiences with net-zero and low energy solar buildings and the most recent developments in whole building integrated design and operation. The joint international research and demonstration activity will address concerns of comparability of performance calculations between building types and communities for different climates in participating countries. The goal is solution sets that are attractive for broad industry adoption. The scope includes major building types (residential and non-residential), new and existing, for the climatic zones represented by the participating countries. The work will be linked to national activities and will focus on individual buildings, clusters of buildings and small settlements. The work will be based on analysis of existing examples that leads to the development innovative solutions to be incorporated into national demonstration buildings. Although this Task will not research large community-scale developments, the Task will study the interaction and integration of large numbers of NZEBs with electric and natural gas utilities and community energy systems. The work will be connected to other international collaborations on net zero energy solutions at the community level. This Task will pursue integrated architecture and optimal integrated design solutions that provide good indoor environment for both heating and cooling situations. The process recognizes the importance of optimizing the design for the functional requirement, reducing loads and designing energy systems that pave the way for seamless incorporation of renewable energy innovations as they become cost effective. A goal of the Task is to advance the NZEB concept from an idea into practical reality in the marketplace. The Task source book and the datasets will provide realistic case studies of how NZEBs can be achieved. Demonstrating and documenting real projects will also lower industry resistance to adoption of these concepts.


41. Solar Energy and Architecture
The main goals of the Task are to help achieving high quality architecture for buildings integrating solar energy systems, as well as improving the qualifications of the architects, their communications and interactions with engineers, manufactures and clients. Increased user acceptance of solar designs and technologies will accelerate the market penetration. The overall benefit will be an increased use of solar energy in buildings, thus reducing the non-renewable energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve these goals, work is needed in three main topics: Architectural quality criteria; guidelines for architects by technology and application for new products development. Tool development for early stage evaluations and balancing of various solar technologies integration. Integration concepts and examples, and derived guidelines for architects. The first objective is to define general architectural quality criteria and extract recommendations for solar components/systems, to support manufacturers in developing existing products as well as new products. Specific criteria for the architectural integration of different solar energy components/systems will be developed in cooperation between architects, manufacturers and other actors. New adapted products should result from this activity as well as appropriate ways to use them. The second objective concerns methods and tools to be used by architects at an early design stage, which need to be developed or improved. An example of such a tool can be how to visualize the solar energy concepts to show e.g. clients. Other examples can be tools needed to quantify and clearly illustrate the solar energy contribution and help balance the use of different active and passive solar technologies on the building envelope. The last objective is to provide good examples of architectural integration, in the form of both existing projects that can be analysed as well as proposals for new projects. Buildings, installations and products will be included. Case studies will be an important basis to gain experience regarding the level of successful building integration, achieved solar energy contribution and to identify barriers related to e.g. technical and economical aspects and attitudes. New demonstration buildings will be developed in connection with the Task work and followed at least for the first part of the design stage, to learn from and to test guidelines and tools. Communication tools and guidelines with facts and arguments for architects to help convince their clients to include solar energy systems will be produced. Arguments and facts related to architectural value, energy performance and life cycle costs are essential. Here, the arguments and facts need to be tailored for different building types and owner/user structures. The results will also serve as a basis for teaching material that could be used in e.g. architecture schools. To communicate the value of solar energy designs and technologies, the Task will carry out seminars, workshops and produce articles in e.g. architectural magazines. Scope The scope of the Task includes residential and non-residential buildings. Both new and existing buildings will be included, for the climatic zones represented by the participating countries. In this way the potential impact of the Task can be large. Already cost-effective systems can, with a successful architectural integration, accelerate the market penetration. But also technologies not yet fully cost-effective can benefit from the work to pave the way to successful integration and user/client acceptance, and make the coming market penetration smoother. The work will build upon past IEA Tasks and other research projects related to building integration of solar systems and development of sustainable buildings. The work will be linked to national activities and will focus on individual buildings or groups of buildings with special focus on the building envelope. The work will be based on workshops with architects, manufacturers and other key actors. The workshops may be carried out nationally or regionally based on a common format developed within the Task. In addition, special workshops and seminars may be held in connection with a Task meeting; to let Task experts and representatives from local practitioners and manufacturers come together and discuss barriers and what can be done. Analysis of existing components, systems and buildings will help to develop innovative design solutions. Good examples will also be used to inspire and as help to convince the client.


42. Compact Thermal Energy Storage
Objective The overall objective of this task is to develop advanced materials and systems for the compact storage of thermal energy. This can be subdivided into eight specific objectives: to identify, design and develop new materials and composites for compact thermal energy storage, to develop measuring and testing procedures to characterise new storage materials reliably and reproducibly, to improve the performance, stability, and cost-effectiveness of new storage materials, to develop multi-scale numerical models, describing and predicting the performance of new materials in thermal storage systems, to develop and demonstrate novel compact thermal energy storage systems employing the advanced materials, to assess the impact of new materials on the performance of thermal energy storage in the different applications considered, and to disseminate the knowledge and experience acquired in this task. A secondary objective of this task is to create an active and effective research network in which researchers and industry working in the field of thermal energy storage can collaborate. Scope This task deals with advanced materials for latent and chemical thermal energy storage, and excludes materials related to sensible heat storage. The task deals with these materials on three different scales: material scale, focused on the behaviour of materials from the molecular to the ‘few particles’ scale, including e.g. material synthesis, micro-scale mass transport, and sorption reactions; bulk scale, focused on bulk behaviour of materials and the performance of the storage in itself, including e.g. heat, mass, and vapour transport, wall-wall and wall-material interactions, and reactor design; system scale, focused on the performance of a storage within a heating or cooling system, including e.g. economical feasibility studies, case studies, and system tests. Because seasonal storage of solar heat for solar assisted heating of buildings is the main focus of the SHC IA, this will be one of the primary topics of this task. However, because there are many more relevant applications for TES, and because materials research is not and can not be limited to one application only, this task will focus on multiple application areas. Applications that will be included from the start of this task are: seasonal solar thermal storage, cogeneration and trigeneration and heat pumps, building cooling, district heating, industrial waste heat, and concentrated solar power. Temperature control, e.g. for medical applications, will be taken into account as an interesting spin-off. Finally, as a special theoretical ‘application’, the theoretical limits of advanced storage materials will be investigated as one of the covered applications. This subdivision will be treated with a certain amount of flexibility. If, during the task’s four-year operation, new promising applications are revealed, they can be included in the task’s scope at a later point. Vice versa, if the interests in one of the above-mentioned applications fade, it can be decided to drop this particular application as a focus point of the task. The organisation of the task (see section 5) allows for this flexibility.


43. Rating and Certification Procedures
The task shall focus on research activities and not interfere with standardization bodies. Standardization bodies need the results of research and, under participation of the market actors work out the way the research results shall be applied to products. Communication and dissemination of results will include the legal authorities which define how certification shall be run, for use as they see fit. This proposed international collaboration will research and develop, where needed, new test procedures and characterization methods for addressing the testing of both conventional and advanced solar thermal products. It will leverage the knowledge from existing Tasks/Technical Committees/Certification Groups as a base for the development of work, inviting these groups to participate. By researching testing issues and improved approaches the outputs of this task can help optimize the time and resources companies, laboratories and certification bodies expend on testing and certification; while still assuring consumer protection and providing credible information on solar heating and cooling benefits. The scope of this proposed task includes performance testing and characterization, qualification testing, environmental impact assessment, accelerated aging tests, numerical and analytical modelling, component substitution procedures, and entire system assessment.


44. Solar and Heat Pump Systems
The Task aims at optimising combinations of solar thermal energy and heat pump, primarily for one-family houses. The following items are in focus: 1. Small-scale residential heating and hot water systems that use heat pumps and any type of solar thermal collectors as the main components. 2. Systems offered as one product from a system supplier/manufacturer and that are installed by an installer. 3. Electrically driven heat pumps, but during the development of performance assessment methods thermally driven heat pumps will not be excluded. 4. Market available solutions and advanced solutions (produced during the course of the Task).


45. Large Systems: Large Solar Heating/Cooling Systems, Seasonal Storage, Heat Pumps
The participants in this new Task will collaborate to develop a stronger and more sustainable market for large solar heating and cooling systems. Their work will address the cost effectiveness, high performance and reliability of systems and focus on how to match system configurations to local needs and conditions. To organise the work, the Task will be divided into four work areas: Collectors and collector loop, Storages, Heat pumps/chillers, and Systems. The Task will run from January 2011 to December 2013.


46. Solar Resource Assessment and Forecasting
This Task will address four basic objectives to increase the understanding of our solar resources: 1. evaluation of solar resource variability that impacts large penetrations of solar technologies; 2. standardisation and integration procedures for data bankability; 3. improved procedures for short-term solar resource forecasting; 4. advanced solar resource modeling procedures based on physical principles. Participants will provide the solar energy industry, electricity sector, governments, and renewable energy organisations and institutions with the means to understand the "bankability" of data sets provided by pulic and private sectors. Building on the work of SHC Task 36, participants will work in four areas: - Solar resources applications for high penetration of solar technolgies, - Standardisation and integration procedures for data bankability, - Solar irradiance forecasting, - Advanced resources modeling. The Annex will run from July 2011 to June 2015.


47. Solar Renovation of Non-Residential Buildings
This Task will develop a solid knowledge base on how to renovate non-residentail buildings towards the Near-Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) standards in a sustainable and cost efficient way and to identify the most important market and policy issues as well as marketing strategies for such renovations. Building on the work of SHC Task 37, participants will work in four areas: - Advanced exemplary projects, - Market and policy issues and marketing strategies, - Design and analysis of technical solutions, - Environmental and health impact analysis. The Task will run from january 2011 to June 2014.


48. Quality Assurance and Support Measures for Solar Cooling
The main objective of this Task is to assist a strong and sustainable market development of solar cooling systems. It is focusing on systems including any solar thermal cooling technology (no power limitation or solar collector field area) which can be used in heating mode. The proposed project is intended therefore to create a logical follow up of the IEA SHC work already carried out by trying to find solutions to make the solar thermally driven heating and cooling systems at the same time efficient, reliable and cost competitive.


49. Solar Heat Integration in Industrial Processes
Task 49/IV is currently gathering information of all solar thermal plants delivering heat to industrial processes. 118 SHIP applications have yet been collected.


50. Avanced Lighting Solutions for Retrofitting Buildings
Research and developments in the field of energy efficient lighting techniques encompassing daylighting, electric lighting and lighting controls combined with activities employing and bringing these techniques to the market can contribute significantly to reduce worldwide electricity consumptions and C02 emissions. These activities will therefore be in line with several different governmental energy efficiency and sustainability targets.


51. Solar Energy in Urban Planning
A large portion of the potential for energy efficiency in existing buildings and potential to utilize solar energy still remains unused. Globally, goals and specific targets are set up to reduce our environmental impact on climate and secure future supply of energy. The built environment accounts for over 40% of the world’s total primary energy use and 24% of greenhouse gas emissions. A combination of making buildings (refurbishing and new developments) more energy-efficient and using a larger fraction of renewable energy is therefore a key issue to reduce the non-renewable energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Political statements and directives are already moving towards zero-energy buildings, communities and whole cities. An increased use of solar energy is one important part of the development ahead, where the urban fabric needs to utilize passive solar gains and daylight to reduce the energy use in buildings and for lighting outdoor environments, as well as to improve the inhabitants’ comfort indoors and in urban outdoor areas. Also, active solar energy systems integrated in the urban context will enable a supply of renewable energy primarily as heat and electricity, but also of solar cooling, helping cities reach sustainable solutions.