In Hungary, as in all other former eastern-bloc countries,
energy prices were subsidised. Prices were low and everybody thought that
energy sources were endless. But as energy prices have risen dramatically,
many people have started to look for ways of reducing their energy bills.
Awareness of environmental problems is also growing. This means that the
interest in energy efficiency and in use of renewable energy increased
considerably in the last few years. The problem, however, is that it is
expensive for an average family to invest in such installation and the payback
period is too long (above 5 years). There is no cheap loan or governmental
support for solar collectors.
Hungary has great potential for the use of solar energy, as
the number of sunny hours in Hungary is between 1,950-2,150 per year at an
intensity of 1,200 kWh/m2 per year. This amount of solar energy can
provide a supply of hot water at 30-70oC from early spring until
the end of the autumn, covering 60-70% of hot water need.
In spite of the lack of financial governmental support, in
the last 4-5 years, more than 4,000 m2 of solar collectors have
been installed by NGOs and commercial companies. More and more collectors are
installed every year.
Most systems are for family houses, installed by commercial
companies. A typical system consist of a 4 m2 solar collector and
supplies 200 liters hot water per day when the sun is shining. This covers
60-70% of the yearly hot water demand for a family of 4 persons. It costs
1,000-2,000 USD and the pay back period is about 5-8 years.
Solar collectors are also increasingly popular at swimming
pools and institutions like hospitals, camping, schools. At swimming pools it
makes the water warmer and it expends the use of the pool with 3 months.
Several solar collector importing and manufacturing companies
have appeared in the market. Presently there are 6 which are reporting success
and increasing sale. Several of them started as joint ventures and later
became fully Hungarian. At the beginning they mainly imported the solar
collectors. Nowadays, most of them manufacture them in Hungary.
A new, special NGO initiative
is the so-called "Kaláka"; a
non-profit building method based on the Austrian "Do-It-Yourself" construction
concept. This method decreases the installation costs by 50% compared to
conventional ways. The Kaláka operates from 4 centres in Hungary:
- Pécs (Green Circle)
- Esztergom (Environmental Cultural Association)
- Nyíregyháza (EKA, Energy and Environment
- Gömörszölös (Ecological Institue Foundation)
Each of these places has a workshop
and "tool kits" for
collector production. Anybody can attend these workshops and make their
collector with help from an expert. In addition, the workshop and its
accessories are mobile, so it can be moved as needed. The installation can
be done by anybody at home, with experts' assistance if required. Examples
Kal ka projects are a 200-m2 solar collector system in the Ferences
gymnasium in Esztergom and a 12-m2 demo-installation in the
Eco-Garden island at Kis Duna.