European Solar Thermal Industry Federation

ESTIF, the champion of solar thermal

ESTIF is involved in many issues relevant to the solar thermal industry - from lobbying for favourable legislative framework conditions to work on standards & certification.

The following outlines the political programme of ESTIF. It is a slightly updated version of the programme that was agreed unanimously by ESTIF's General Assembly in 2005.

Please do not forget: The work of ESTIF is made possible mainly through the support of its members. If you want to support our work, please join ESTIF today!

For a proper transposition of the RES Directive into national law

In  March 2007, the Heads of State and Government of the EU 27 countries adopted a binding target of 20% final energy consumption from renewable energy by 2020. After the European Parliament and the Council agreed upon the RES Directive in December 2008, it entered into force in June 2009. If properly transposed into national law, the RES Directive will become the most ambitious piece of legislation on renewable energy in the world. 

For the first time, heating and cooling - responsibl for 50% of Europe's energy demand - will be covered by a Europe Directive promoting renewable energies. Thus the Directive creates a positive climate for the long-term development of solar thermal technologies in Europe.

ESTIF stands for:

  • Ambitious national growth targets for solar thermal installed capacity by 2020 according to the specific potential and current market development of each Member State.
  • To reach these targets, Member States should be required to implement renewable energy obligations for new buildings and for buildings undergoing renovation. The building sector is key to tackling the heating and cooling sector, which accounts for approximately half of the final energy demand in Europe.
  • Furthermore, the national action plans foreseen in the RES Directive proposal must encourage national, regional and local authorities to implement one or several additional instruments to promote solar thermal: 
    • Financial incentives to investment or fiscal reductions. These measures should be targeted at non-obliged market segments – e.g. solar thermal for industrial processes – or for solar thermal installations in buildings which go beyond the minimum requirements of the renewable energy obligations for new and renovated buildings. These financial measures should be stable and long-term oriented, in order to build up confidence with investors. To avoid dependency from public budgets, ESTIF recommends that financial incentive schemes be financed by the users of non-renewable energy sources for heating and cooling are considered
    • Awareness raising campaigns supported by public authorities and focused to relevant target groups: end users (house owners, operators of high-potential applications such as hotels, swimming pools, collective buildings), architects, craftsmen (heating installers and roofers), building & construction industry
    • Support specific training for solar thermal technologies, focused on key professional actors: planners, architects, heating installers and roofers 

Further information:

  • To download the text of the RES Directive.
  • To download the National Renewable Action Plan Template, please click here.
  • The European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) has published in 2008 a Renewable Energy Technology Roadmap 20% by 2020. To download this brochure, please click here

    Strengthening Solar Thermal Research and Development

    Solar Thermal Systems are today reliable and include advanced technologies. However, there is a potential for an even better use of the energy provided by the sun.

    ESTIF stands for:

    • Stronger attention on solar thermal within national and European R&D programmes
    • A broad European initiative for R&D on renewable cooling, including solar assisted cooling
    • Focused R&D approach for promising areas like solar process heat, solar desalination, long term heat storage, building integration

      Further information:

      Energy Statistics To Fully Show The Solar Thermal Potential

      What is not measured does not count. Our sector has suffered for too long under this truth: as our statistics were traditionally expressed in m2, solar thermal was often neglected in energy statistics. Together with the International Energy Agency's Solar Heating and Cooling Programme, ESTIF agreed on a methodology to convert m2 into MWth ("megawatt-thermal") capacity. The results are surprising for many: behind hydropower and biomass, solar thermal is the leading renewable technology worldwide.

      ESTIF stands for:

      • Energy statistics at national, European and international level that fully consider solar thermal, using MW as unit of measure
      • Wider use by all institutions issuing statistics of the conversion factor between m2 and MWth as agreed by IEA-SHC, with ESTIF and other associations

      Further information:

      • For further information on how to convert square meters of collector area into kilowatt-thermal of nominal capacity, please have a look at "Solar Thermal - a leading technology".
      • The latest markets statistics for the EU (2008) were published in May 2009 by ESTIF.
      • International solar thermal statistics are published by the International Energy Agency's Solar Heating and Cooling Programme. Please have a look at their 2009 edition of "Solar Heat Worldwide".

      Abolition of all Technical and Trade Barriers in the European Union

      Varying testing and certification requirements in different countries can hamper a free and efficient European market for solar thermal systems and components. ESTIF has developed - together with the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and with support from the European Commission - the Solar Keymark, which certifies that a product complies with the relevant European standards. However, in many public support programmes, the Solar Keymark is still not recognised.

      ESTIF stands for:

      • The abolition of barriers to international trade of solar thermal systems and components.Repetition of testing and certification must be avoided
      • Every public support scheme in the European Union should accept as eligible any product complying with the existing EN standards 12975 or 12976 and certified by the Solar Keymark

      Further information

      • For more information on the Solar Keymark please have a look at our page on Standards & Certification and at

      For a Level Playing Field in the Heating Market

      The use of coal, gas, oil and nuclear for heating and cooling causes costs to the environment and society that are not reflected in their costs as perceived by the users. Renewable energy therefore face an unfair competition.

      ESTIF stands for:

      • Full internalisation of the external costs linked to the use of oil, gas, coal and nuclear for heating and cooling purposes

      Full Recognition of Solar Thermal in the Implementation of the EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD)

      The Energy Performance of Building Directive (EPBD) obliges all EU Member States to set up energy performance requirements for (new) buildings by January 2006. However the Directive does not specify how solar thermal or other renewable energy sources should be treated. Therefore ESTIF has issued several recommendations for a suitable implementation.

      ESTIF stands for:

      • A methodology for the calculation of energy performance, which fully recognises the benefits of solar thermal
      • Energy performance certificates, which explicitly show the contribution of renewables to the energy consumption of the building
      • Dynamic energy performance requirements, which are tightened every 1-2 years

      Further information:

      • Please consult our page on the EPBD.



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