Research in solar heating has traditionally focused solely on increasing the system efficiency by improving the technical components. In this thesis the technical methodology and system boundaries are widened to connect the technical aspects with market actors that are highly influential on the implementation of solar technology.
The research was focused on how social aspects can be brought into technical studies to improve the understanding of solar heating, and how solar thermal technology can be optimized in a larger energy system. Both heat storage and different system solutions have been investigated. The thesis is built on a number of sub-projects exploring different aspects of solar heating.
Improved components and system configurations may result in higher fractional energy savings and thereby make solar energy go from a marginal contribution to be the main energy supplier. Both components and systems are considered in this thesis. The solar heating technology has been shown to work well, also in unique system solutions. Technical possibilities with medium-sized stores for single-family houses and seasonal stores for residential areas are presented. Methods to bring studies of technology and actor studies together are also proposed; domestic hot water use has been modelled based on time-use data, while a multifaceted market situation, in which new system solutions must find their way, has been described by the solar and pellet industries. The complexity of assessing installation and use of a particular heating system in relation to the overall energy system is also discussed.
Overall, this thesis shows that successful use of solar heating does not only come down to proper technical solutions, but also depends on the interaction between technology and market actors. A widened perspective, including the social context in which the heating system appears, is then essential. This thesis constitutes a step in that direction.