The European Solar Thermal Technology Platform (ESTTP) was launched on 21 June 2005, at the 2nd European Solar Thermal Energy Conference (estec2005). This represents an important milestone in the evolution of solar thermal technology.
By 2006, the ESTTP had already formulated its 2030 vision for low-temperature solar thermal in a Strategic Research Agenda "Solar Heating and Cooling for a Sustainable Energy Future in Europe" published in 2008.
In February 2013, the ESTTP issued the “Strategic Research Priorities for Solar Thermal Technology” (SRP). While this new document identifies the huge potential for technological developments in solar heating and cooling up to 2050, it also highlights the need for a significant increase in R&D activities and the corresponding investment costs. Prepared with the contribution from experts in the research, industry and public sectors across Europe, the SRP covers solar technologies for nearly-zero energy residential buildings, public and commercial buildings, district heating systems, industrial applications and solar assisted cooling systems.
The SRP was implemented through the development of the technology roadmap for solar heating and cooling. This roadmap defines the research topics and related measures up to 2020; it also describes the research projects and resources entailed (research infrastructure, involved industry and budgets). In describing future research activities, it seeks to influence the decisions of the European Commission regarding solar thermal research.
Three pathways are identified, which the sector must tackle in parallel: the development of solar compact hybrid systems (SCOHYS) to reduce the solar heat costs by 50% until 2020, technological improvements in Solar-Active-Houses (SAH) as an attractive option to fulfil the requirement of nearly zero-energy buildings and the development of systems supplying solar heat for industrial processes (SHIP).