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Automated production line for polymer solar collectors is put into operation

Inaventa Solar has now completed the pioneering production facility for solar collectors at the company’s factory in Jevnaker. With this step, Norwegian solar collector technology is finally put into industrial production, and the new production line is the first of its kind globally. The collectors are produced in a high-performing, lightweight polymer material that has better environmental values than the metals traditionally used in this type of product. After 18 months of construction and commissioning, the production plant is now up and running. Annual production capacity stands at 600,000 square meters of solar collectors.

Inaventa_Solar_extruder.pngPhoto: Inaventa Solar

Inaventa Solar's solar collector concept has been developed over two decades in close collaboration with national and international partners. The innovative aspect is the switching from metals to advanced polymer materials, a trend that has been prominent in sectors such as aerospace and autos in recent years. 

Advanced polymer materials are regarded by many experts as key to realizing the huge potential of solar thermal energy – by reducing costs and creating opportunities for aesthetic innovations – although processing such material qualities is far from easy. Inaventa Solar is the only manufacturer currently on the market that has the technology and production methods required to make high-quality solar collectors in heat-resistant polymer materials. By adjusting design and selecting the best materials to work in permanent contact with water at medium-to-high temperatures under moderate pressure, Inaventa Solar has been able to produce durable and well performing solar collectors.

Why polymeric materials?

Solar energy, both solar PV and solar thermal (heating), is believed to play an important role in the energy system of the future. For solar heating particularly, there is a strong need for new technology that provides cheaper and more flexible products.  

Most solar collectors are still made out of metals, produced individually and in fixed sizes. By switching to polymer materials, the production process becomes more efficient, while also enabling more flexible product design. In turn, the products can be offered at more competitive prices, with a higher degree of customization. Polymer collectors are also more lightweight than their metal counterparts and are therefore easer to transport and handle at the construction site. 

The material used in Inaventa Solar's solar collectors is recyclable and does not degrade or break down into microplastics.

The solar thermal market is growing

While the market for solar heating (solar thermal) has grown comparatively slower than the market for solar power (solar PV) in recent years, global forecasts from the International Energy Agency, IEA, now point in the direction of an accelerated expansion. In Europe, several countries are already experiencing rapid solar heating market growth – in Germany for example, sector turnover rose by as much as 26% in 2020.

Two key factors underpin this development. Firstly, the phasing in of various support frameworks has been crucial. Secondly, heat needs are receiving increased international attention. Half of the world's energy consumption is related to heat, and there is a growing recognition globally that this challenge must be addressed more directly if we are to achieve the UN's sustainability goals.

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