In 2011 the market for solar heating systems increased by almost eleven per cent over the previous year. Altogether 149,000 new solar heating systems were installed on German roofs, which correspond to a collector area of around 1.27 million square metres. As a result there are now 1.66 million solar thermal systems in Germany providing hot water and/or heating. The proportion of solar energy systems that also support space heating in addition to the provision of hot water is now around 50 per cent.
The Federal Industrial Association of Germany House, Energy and Environmental Technology (Bundesindustrieverband Deutschland Haus-, Energie- und Umwelttechnik, BDH) and the Federal Solar Industry Association (Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft e.V., BSW-Solar) put the recovery of the solar heating market down to factors such as the sharp rise in energy prices, the good winter weather and the increased willingness to invest money in tangible assets. Heating oil prices increased by almost 25 per cent in 2011, those of natural gas by 4.5 per cent over the same period the previous year. Both organisations stress that in comparison to the boom year of 2008 the solar thermal market has only just reached a level of about 60 per cent. Volatile energy prices and a lack of incentives hindered the urgently needed expansion of solar thermal energy in the heating market. What attractive and targeted support in the area of building efficiency and the renewable energy heating technologies used might look like has been under discussion in Germany for quite some time now.