Collective solar heating networks


Gathering together all the stakeholders in the solar heating networks sector to become more effective: this is the objective of SOCOL (for collective solar), a French interprofessional initiative launched in 2009 by Enerplan, with the support of Ademe. The group exceeds one thousand members in 2015 and today announced an ambitious action plan for 2015-2017.


“Large solar heat production facilities have a significant contribution to make to the energy transition throughout France,” said Francois Gibert, vice president of Enerplan, the union of professionals in solar energy in France. With instant power greater than 700 W/m², the annual supply often exceeds 500 kWh/year/m² for an investment currently totalling between €1 and €1.50 before tax, the solar thermal sector has all the tools to become a member of the family of heating networks.


Solar heating network professionals moving out of the shadows


Furthermore, thanks to a recent call for “large facilities” projects by the Ademe, the means set aside for collective solar installations by the Heat Fund have been strengthened. SOCOL seized this opportunity to launched its three-year plan, the first component of which will be to encourage the development of skills of the principal players in solar heating networks.


A truly large scale communication operation will also help increase the number of players involved in the market, increase their skills and develop activities everywhere in France in a bid to raise awareness of the sector and sensitize communities and the general public.




Assured performances, trained professionals 



An additional priority for SOCOL is to further improve standards of performance and quality in solar heating networks. The overall cost of collective solar heating in kWh varies today between 7 and 10 cents/kWh and is expected to fall further. The action plan also provides for reliable projects through the commissioning process dedicated to collective solar heating by extending and making commonplace the monitoring of connected facilities and guaranteeing performance.


In this same drive for increased demand and efficiency, SOCOL’s objective is to create the EGR qualification (recognized guarantor of the environment) for installers, after which it will be key for this qualification to be fully implemented and promoted among professionals.


Habitat, industry and agriculture: the heating network for all sectors

Enfin, SOCOL prévoit un développement tout azimut, appuyé par une politique de mise en confiance des acteurs de la maîtrise d’ouvrage. Première étape :construire une offre optimale en termes de rapport qualité/prix.

Les réseaux de chaleur solaires constitueront ainsi une opportunité intéressante pour l’habitat collectif en général, et plus particulièrement encore l’habitat social, qui fera l’objet d’une attention ciblée.

Finally, SOCOL anticipates an all-out development, supported by a policy of confidence building for project managers. The first step in this process is to ensure an optimal offer in terms of price/quality ratio.


Solar heating networks therefore constitute an interesting opportunity for collective housing in general, and more particularly social housing, which will be a particular focus of attention.


The ultimate ambition of the 2015-2017 three-year SOCOL plan is to foster a strategy for developing the solar heating network market which will concern the tertiary sector, the industry and the agricultural world equally.

To accomplish this ambitious program, Enerplan wishes to involve leading partners (such as Costic, GrDF, INES, Qualit’EnR, Tecsol and Uniclima), without forgetting the main organizations representing professional installers, operating companies and maintenance (e.g. AICVF, CAPEB Cinov, FFB, FEDENE, ICO), as well as the USH, the Regions and the Regional Directorates of Ademe.


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