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. Market heats up for solar in Europe

File photo: Solar water heaters in Kunming, China.
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Jun 1, 2006
The market for solar water heaters in Europe grew by 18 percent in 2005 compared with 2004 measured by installed equipment, according to provisional figures published on Thursday by Tecsol, a French consultancy that monitors the solar energy market.

A total of 14 million square metres (150 million square feet) of solar panels for water heaters were operating in Europe at the end of last year, a rise of 18 percent or 1.9 million square metres over 2004.

Germany is by far the biggest market, accounting for 5.6 million square metres, although France saw the biggest year-on-year gain -- an increase of 134 percent in 2005 over 2004.

Solar heaters are tanks, usually placed on roofs, that use solar energy to heat pipes that contain water or a convective fluid whose heat is then transferred to water.

The heated water is used for baths, showers or swimming pools.

The surge in European sales coincided with a sharp rise last year in prices for fossil fuels, coupled to a boost in tax incentives in many countries for energy conservation.

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