As early as November 2020, the national association Austria Solar put a new decision-making tool called Quick Check BIOSOL on its website. In essence, the program helps plant owners to find out whether their district heating networks could benefit from solar heat integration.

At a German-language webinar following the upload, Austria Solar’s Managing Director Roger Hackstock explained how the tool works. It requires only a couple of basic system parameters to determine whether solar collectors can supply as much energy in summer as the biomass or fossil fuel boilers grid operators have in place today.

According to March 2018 data, 1,546 of Austria’s 2,108 biomass plants used for heating are also run in summer despite some drawbacks. For one, the devices produce soot, which hampers efficiency and increases wood chip consumption. Switching to solar thermal can solve these issues, reduce operation cost, and lower air pollution. But instead of immediately turning to detailed – and costly – feasibility studies on solar district heating sites and systems, stakeholders can now use Quick Check BIOSOL for a first, free analysis of whether a retrofit is worth the effort. The tool was developed in partnership with several Austrian experts and was sponsored by solar thermal system supplier Gasokol.

The tool utilises only a dozen parameters, including buffer tank volume, annual district heating demand, usable roof surface, grid temperature in summer, boiler type (biomass or fossil) and type of auxiliary heating (heat pump, waste heat or CHP system). Aside from that, the tool will automatically fill in some values, for example, the average collector yield. Almost immediately after entering the parameters, a note pops up, indicating a system’s potential for solar heat integration. This means the tool shows how much collector area is needed to replace a boiler partly or entirely in summer and how much land the collectors require if roof space is limited. In addition, Quick Check BIOSOL provides recommendations e.g. on how to reduce grid temperatures and more.

You can find a recording of the webinar and Hackstock’s presentation at:
Austria Solar’s Quick Check Biosol:
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Photo: Solid