|ISH 2003 was awash
with talk of the Bosch bid for power, the continuing research and development
efforts of the European manufacturers to make fuel cells viable, and
the reemergence of heat pumps.
While world events
and economies limited the number of attendees at ISH 2003, March 25-29,
to 180,000—an 8-percent decline from ISH 2001—exhibitors
increased by 3.7 percent, due in most part to the partial return of
Europe’s air-conditioning and ventilation industry.
In general, the
looks of the fair did not change much from ISH 2001. However, with
manufacturers now wanting to project innovative images, the look of
the exhibitor stands reflected the change. This was most clear at the
Buderus display: where large rectangular panels in shades of blue—the
Buderus color—had once reigned; now there were sail-shaped panels
with large pictures of people, for the human touch. The Vaillant stand
distinguished itself with large bone-like structures, and at Viessmann,
the most serious of them all, stylish water drops in bright colors
marked a visual change.
offers T60 to T110 geothermal pumps with outputs between 6 to
11 kWh. The units come with built-in hot water storage.
The German heating
market has been shrinking since 1994, along with the Austrian and Swiss
markets. Thus, the total European market size is about 10 billion euros
(U.S. $11 billion). So, what can businesses in the European market, which,
as a whole, saw a 2-percent decline compared to last year, do to revitalize
the sanitation, heating, and air-conditioning industry?
“In the UK
and Italy there are many opportunities for condenser technology. Current
shares are 13 percent for the UK and only 3 percent for Italy, against
100 percent for Switzerland and 89 percent for the Netherlands,” said
Klaus Huttelmaier of Junkers/Bosch Thermotechnology. “Hence, there
is significant market potential, further fueled by an expected law in
the UK allowing only condenser boilers to be installed in 2005, and similar
discussions on incentives in Italy.” For many companies, this means
that the UK is replacing Germany as its largest market.
In a press conference
at the show, Mr. Huttelmaier confirmed general ongoing trends in European
markets. He said that oil is being replaced by gas (especially in the
UK and Germany), the wall-mounted gas-fired boiler is increasingly popular
(as is condenser technology), and regenerative energy has enjoyed double-digit
growth numbers. Many manufacturers offer solar collectors; products for
low-energy and passive buildings, as well as reverse-cycle heating systems;
and development in fuel cells is a favorite subject of speculation.
technical documentation management for Veissmann, told APPLIANCE, “Next
to the fuel cell, our company sees several interesting trends in the
heating market. First, at least in Germany, there is a clear trend to
a system perspective instead of just delivering an appliance. This is
partly because of legal changes. Previously, there were separate rulings
for buildings and heating equipment. Now, there are just standards for
the building as a whole, so interaction between architects and heating
engineers is necessary. As a company, we are providing much more (and
different) information to our customers, increasingly from a system perspective.”
According to Mr.
Meier-Wiechert, Veissmann is also experiencing a trend toward condenser
technology—also for oil-fired heaters, which is more difficult—as
well as strong growth in environmental products. “In Germany, almost
half of new houses are built with a solar collector,” he said.
air-based heat pump from Stiebel Eltron can be placed outdoors,
thanks to a protective housing.
A clear trend at
ISH this year was the development of fuel cells. And again, similar to
2 years ago, Vaillant seems to be the leader. At ISH 2001, the company
showed a working prototype, and now reports steady progress in the field
“We just started
a field test of 30 installations of our second-generation prototype,” said
Stefan Jakubik, public relations for Vaillant. “This is a test,
partly funded by the European Union, taking place in Germany, Holland,
Spain, and Portugal. An important improvement in the new generation is
better integration of components…. We learned a lot in the first
series. The second important test aspect is the central command system
to balance loads. Technically, the stack—the actual fuel cells—got
much smaller and more reliable, and the durability of the reformer (to
transform natural gas into hydrogen and oxygen) also improved. The vision
is to have hundreds of systems working together, achieving maximal efficiency,
and it is called the Virtual Power Plant.”
The company has plans
to test another 20 systems later this year reportedly in cooperation
with almost a dozen public utility companies. According to Mr. Jakubik,
even larger trials are scheduled for 2004 and 2005, and the date for
commercial introduction of the fuel cells will depend on the outcome
of the tests, which need a careful approach. “Power companies need
to accept the system where small, private power units supply power back
into their power lines,” Mr. Jakubik said.
The Baxi Group’s
recent acquisition of two companies clearly showed its interest in renewable
energy sources. First, Baxi bought European Fuel Cell GmbH, a former
research group of the Hamburg-based EON power company. “We now
offer the second generation of our fuel cell product to show the market
what we can do,” said Guido Gummert, general manager of European
Fuel Cell. “It has a 1.5-kWh electrical and 2.9-kWh heat power
output, uses gas, and is combined with a condenser boiler in one housing.
About 65 percent daily use of heating power can be covered through the
Also crucial was
the purchase last year of German SenerTec, the market leader in cogeneration
units or CHPs (combined heat and power). The company said that its flagship
DACHS CHP unit is the most popular in its class. It contains a 579-cm
horizontal one-cylinder, four-stroke engine, and delivers about 5 kWh
electrical and 10 to 12 kWh heat power in gas and oil versions. CHP business
is picking up in Germany because there is a fixed and guaranteed tariff
for delivering power back to the public power network.
Through its acquisition
of SenerTec, Baxi Group gained valuable cogeneration experience. Because
fuel cells are basically CHP units, many issues regarding cogeneration
must be solved before fuel cell installations can be successful, and
fuel cell units are not possible without a cogeneration infrastructure
looks like a washer window, but it is the Viessmann MatriX gas
burner. There are no flames, but an equal “glow” in
the mid-size VitoCrossal 300 boiler. APPLIANCE magazine photo.
In renewable energies,
next to the fuel cells and the cogeneration units, the heat pump makes
its comeback. This product, in different versions, is an important product
for Stiebel Eltron, a German company that became well-known for instantaneous
water heaters for kitchen use. “The current products are greatly
improved,” said Michael Birke, director of Public Relations. “They
now use geothermal heat, and the pipes are inserted vertically, about
50-m deep. Previously, one had to use horizontal tubes, which took much
more space. With our system, one unit of electricity can produce five
units of heat.”
According to Mr.
Birke, a heat pump is more expensive at the time of purchase, but on
the long term, savings are substantial. He added, “The heat pump
market was very difficult for several years, but now there is a 30-percent
growth. Market size is about 9,000 annually, and we are happy to be market
was the passive house—one with no external energy added. If the
energy from room heating is recycled through a heat exchange in the ventilation
system, up to 90 percent of the heat is recycled, and only the remaining
10 percent has to be delivered by the heat pump (using air). Stiebel
Eltron manufactures integrated systems, combining a heat pump and a regenerative
A different approach
to the heat pump is taken by Buderus. Instead of an electric-powered
compressor, it uses a gas-powered absorption cycle, with a mix of water,
ammonia, and helium. This is the same as is found in camping and hotel
refrigerators, but Buderus increased the capacity to about 20 times of
the existing circuits.
According to Buderus,
the one-stage absorption process is capable of adding 50 percent to the
energy value of the primary energy source, so that the theoretical output/input
ratio could be 150 percent. In daily use, savings of about 20 percent
a new heat pump product line: the Junkers T 60 to T 110 geothermal pumps,
which are compact units with outputs between 6 to 11 kW, and have a built-in,
stainless steel hot water storage tank. The units feature an integrated
ventilation module to extract the energy in the waste air.
Vaillant remote terminal allows the technician to remotely check
any boiler parameter. Fast service can be provided with direct
three-way voice connection between the technician, the customer,
and the Vaillant support center.
Vaillant VR Netdialog
Home networking was
not as visible as at other competing fairs (Mostra Convegno and HomeTech),
and market developments are said to be slow. Still, Vaillant was proud
to present its networking product line. In the system, the heating system
is connected through a modem with an external server, which can be accessed
through a cellular phone, a PC, or a PDA, of which the latter is thought
to be the focus of attention. This is because the target customer is
clearly the service technician, who needs a compact but user-friendly
terminal. The technician can call up operating parameters as well as
customer and equipment data, and can be voice-connected directly to the
Vaillant callcenter for more assistance, even in a three-way conversation
with the customer. Much attention was paid to the plug-and-play aspects,
for on-site ease of use.
Current systems use
telephone modems, but connections through IP-addresses or RF-modems are
foreseen. Most of this is not new—Italy’s MTS had several
previous offerings—but Vaillant added several elements: the PDA
as a mobile terminal, functions primarily geared toward the service technician
(such as the remote, quick first check as a response to a customer call),
and the payment method. The test phase is finished, and the system will
go on sale mid-2003, first in Germany, then in Austria and Switzerland.
with the new condensing appliances with CO sensors, the system has an
additional advantage: it performs security functions,” said Mr.
Jakubik of Vaillant. “We call it the CareFree service. There will
be functions for preventive maintenance: internal errors are detected
before they turn into serious problems.”
Next to all the new
developments, there were also several more traditional product announcements.
The product that was highlighted by almost all manufacturers was the
closed-casing reservoir boiler.
like the floor-standing gas or oil boiler instead of a wall-hanging one,
with separate DHW reservoir, and many even prefer a reservoir as large
as 200 to 300 L. Usually the boiler would be installed in the cellar,
where looks do not matter, so the piping and components on the appliance
Now, more customers
want to install their boilers in living areas, so reservoir boilers (gas-
and oil-fired) are offered with a much more compact closed casing. Bosch/Junkers
has the Cerasmart line, Buderus offers the Logamax Plus, and Viessmann
has the Vitodens 222 model. The DHW calorifiers are smaller, less than
100 L, and have temperature layers: instead of a heating element inside
the tank, an external heat exchanger feeds into the top of the tank where
the hot water is available immediately, doubling the peak capacity.
Two years ago the
takeover of UK-based Hepworth by German Vaillant was in the headlines,
partly because Vaillant was about the same size as Hepworth, and the
combination of the two created the largest heating manufacturer in Europe
with 9,300 employees.
When asked about
the results of the takeover, Stefan Jakubik, public relations for Vaillant,
told APPLIANCE, “It worked beyond expectations. The integration
of Hepworth Group and Vaillant is on schedule. We are integrating marketing,
administration, IT, and controlling, and we are achieving significant
A clear example is
the consolidation of our service units in various markets. In some countries
even the back offices of different brands were merged, while strictly
maintaining the brand identities.”
After the takeover,
the company appears to be flourishing against the market. The company
boasts a 10-percent revenue raise over 2 years to 1.8 billion EUR (U.S.
$2 billion) and an EBITDA margin up from 11 to 13 percent.
The biggest issue
at ISH 2003 was still the Bosch/Buderus takeover. Electrotechnical giant
Robert Bosch GmbH has wanted to take over Buderus for some time, and
different approaches have been tried. At ISH, the only information was
that Bosch had acquired about 10 percent of Buderus’ shares. In
a later press statement, however, it was announced that the important
30.02-percent share in Buderus belonging to Bilfinger Berger AG will
be sold to Bosch, and Bosch will renew the offerings to other shareholders.
Many at Buderus fear that there is too much overlap between Buderus and
Bosch Thermotechnology/Junkers division, and that the takeover will lead
to major changes in Buderus operations.
Buderus itself performed two minor takeovers: a wholesaler in Turkey and Boulter
Boilers, a 96-staff heater manufacturer in the UK.
news on consolidation was the takeover of two smaller companies—SenerTec
and European Fuel Cell GmbH, both German—by the Baxi Group. This
UK-based company purchased German Brötje 3 years ago, and last year
Turkish manufacturer Baymak joined the group, which now consists of 32
companies. Both purchases were made to strengthen Baxi’s renewable
energy operations, as SenerTec is in Combined Heat and Power units (CHP),
and EFC is in fuel cells.
The Baxi group is
the third largest company on the European market with about 5,500 employees.
In the UK, Baxi is strong in fireplaces—gas- or electrical-powered—a
typical British habit. They are sold in many varieties, but are virtually
unknown on the continent.
business has its own fair in Germany, the IKK. Still, a few manufacturers
were present at ISH, and Tedy Kuni of Carrier Product Support was present
to report the latest news on the European air-conditioning markets.
“Due to the
mild climates, residential air-conditioning is a luxury product,” he
told APPLIANCE. “Industrial markets are similar to the U.S. or
Japan, but the private markets are small, and quite slow in adapting
new technologies.” According to Mr. Kuni, European consumers are
beginning to understand the benefits of air-conditioning due to the strong
sales of car air-conditioning. “We adapted our strategy,” he
said. “The emphasis is now on the wellness aspects (the fourfold
air filtering), comfort, and energy efficiency (through inverter technology).
We do not picture just white boxes in our brochures anymore.”
Mr. Kuni also commented on the differences between the world’s air-conditioning
are startling,” he said. “In Japan, inverter systems have
a 90-percent share, in Europe just 10 percent. Also, temperature perception
is different. The industry has different graphs, picturing temperature
versus comfort perception, for the various continents. The Europeans
set their thermostats different (higher) than Japanese and Americans.
Furthermore, the U.S. customer is keen on value-for-money and is willing
to sacrifice efficiency and features.”