The global solar furnace market is envisaged to leverage the opportunity created by the growing need to use solar energy as a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuel, owing to increasing prices.
This is according to a report by market researcher and consulting services provider TMR Research, titled ‘Solar Furnace Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Trends, Analysis, Growth, and Forecast 2017 – 2025’.
The international market is also anticipated to take advantage of the security concerns associated with the use of energy. The solar furnace or concentrator technology is an effective means of using solar energy. It finds use in small-scale applications, such as cooking without the consumption of firewood, as well as large scale applications, such as generating electricity by heating a gas.
A solar furnace is more advanced compared with a traditional furnace. It consists of a primary solar collection system and static parabolic concentrator.
A solar furnace captures sunlight and produces extremely high temperature, which is used for diverse industrial purposes. This is done using a plethora of mirrors, which perform as parabolic reflectors, enabling concentration of light energy on a focal point. A parabolic reflector is a device used to collect and project light and sound energy or radio waves. Importantly, temperature at the focal point can reach around 3 500 ºC. This heat can be used later to generate electricity, derive hydrogen fuel, melt steel or make nano materials.
On the back of the latest technological advancements, the term “solar furnace” has attained a much wider scope. It is now referred to as a solar concentrator heating system, which uses heliostats or parabolic mirrors that have enabled achieving 538 ºC.
While the largest solar furnace is located at Odeillo in France, the smaller models operating according to the same principle can be used for daily household tasks, such as cooking. This could be a breakthrough for curbing pollution, especially if introduced in rural areas across emerging nations, as the technology would enable cooking without having to use firewood. If the same technology permeates the household sector it could help governments resolve a core concern pertaining to pollution.
Likewise, a larger furnace can be used to generate electricity to power additional items in a house. The technology can enable the powering of an entire home, if homeowners retrofit solar furnaces into their existing homes. While the concept is already introduced in several developing nations, it is still at a nascent stage. However, in the coming years, it is likely to minimise firewood-related deforestation, thus curbing the negative impact of the same on the environment.
Global Solar Furnace Market Trends
The adoption of solar furnace technology is predicted to be boosted by the growing awareness about renewable-energy resources and expanding acceptance of solar as a workable form of energy. The technology can be used to create steam for producing electricity and pasteurising water in large-scale applications. It can also be implemented in off-grid applications. Solar furnaces can be installed for controlling heat generation during high temperature processes, such as smelting and by industries that make use of blast furnaces.
The rare use of solar furnace technology for commercial purposes and high initial cost of deployment could act as major constraints on the growth of the global market. However, with efforts to reduce the costs and a growing acceptance of renewable technology, the market is expected to rise above its constraints, even though it is still in the nascent stage of development.
Solar furnaces allow the precise control of the atmosphere inside in accordance with the needs of the customers. At different elevated temperatures, the technology can be used to study material properties.
Global Solar Furnace Market Geography
France holds the title of accommodating the largest solar furnace facility in the world. The Odeillo solar furnace is spread across an area of about 2 000 m2 in Font-Romeu-Odeillo-Via; illustrating the dominance of France in the global solar furnace market. In addition, the majority of the world’s solar furnace facilities are established in Europe and the US.
Countries such as France, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland are the prominent European participants where solar furnace technology has been successfully tested.
In emerging markets, Asia Pacific tops the list with a number of nations considering the idea of installing solar furnace facilities in the near future. This is mainly owing to the rising energy needs and competitive renewable-energy targets of the economies in the Asia Pacific region. Other nations such as South Korea and Australia are also expected to invest in the installation market. However, the rest of the world geography is predicted to continue with its lower market share in terms of installation.
The major players competing in the global solar furnace market are few in number currently, with Prosolartec, Abosolicon, Sun Power, Nordic Green, Solartron Energy, and GT Advanced Technologies the most promising players.