#02 | Renewable heat: a powerful lever to fight against CO2 emissions

Renewable energies in the EU’s final energy consumption (2017)

When fighting against climate change, lowering our CO2 emissions is key. To do so, changing the way of producing energy represents an excellent asset.

The following chart indicates how the final usages of energy split within the European Union in 2017.

It shows that most of the energy is used as heat, and that the share of renewable heat is only of 20%. In other words, an overwhelming majority of heat is produced by the combustion of fossil fuels.

It is clear renewable heat appears as a sector largely under-exploited for combating climate change.

Solar heat: a mature technology to address industries’ heat demands

Within the different options to produce renewable heat, solar thermal energy gathers undeniable advantages:

  • No CO2 nor particles emissions during the operation phase.
  • Inexhaustible and predictable source of energy.
  • Stable energy price during a project lifetime.
  • Local energy for energy independence.
  • Complete and easy recyclability of material.

Historically, solar heat has been developed mainly in Northern Europe from several decades with District Heating Networks. Today, the technologies and knowledge allow its application to other sectors such as Industry or Greenhouses.

Combined with heat storages, solar thermal collectors show high flexibility despite the intermittent nature of this energy. It can cover up to 100% of energy needs of several dozens of gigawatt hour. The larger the projects, the greater is the impact on reducing CO2 emissions.

Flat Plate Collectors (FPC) are applicable for temperature ranges up to 100°C. This technology is the most efficient, with efficiency up to 80% for the conversion of solar irradiation into usable heat.

NEWHEAT’s solar thermal plant on Condat papermill

Solar heat and water treatment: the perfect match

Most large solar thermal plants are currently supplying District Heating Networks. Yet large-scale plants (over 1 MW) are still in early stage of development. The applications are rapidly diversifying, as everyone is moving towards a more sober and environmentally friendly world. In industries, drying applications are a good match with solar heat for example. Implementation of solar heat for water treatment is currently in development on multiple sites (municipal and industrial).

Newheat as part of Remine Water project team, will study and test an innovative combination between low temperature evaporation and solar thermal energy to lower the environmental impact of this process. Low temperature evaporation integrates the use of an energy that is less intensive, and compatible with solar heat and other renewables. The results of this combination will be for sure an important brick in water treatment sustainability and competitivity for mining activities.