Thermal Industry Group (ASTIG) and European Solar Industry Federation (ESIF) have decided to merge into one strong European organization to act in the interest of the sector. The new organization’s name is European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF).Brussels, Belgium – February 5, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The members of ESTIF are national or regional solar industry associations, individual industrial companies and service organizations. “Through the merger, the European solar thermal industry will work more effectively to put solar thermal on the EU political agenda and this will enhance the market penetration of solar thermal applications in Europe” says ESTIF President Ole Pilgaard. “ESTIF starts with 13 national solar industry associations, 18 solar thermal companies and 8 service organizations, they represent the majority of EU member countries. ESTIF gives a very strong representation of the European solar thermal industry in Brussels.” One of the important missions of ESTIF is to strengthen the use of solar energy for heating and cooling in Europe. Heating makes up roughly one third of EU primary energy consumption and is a major source of urban air pollution. ESTIF supports a long-term strategy for sustainable and non-imported energy supply for the EU, which includes a strong development of renewable heating/cooling. Solar thermal offers a key, already well-developed technological solution, viable in all EU countries for applications in the housing and public service sectors, as well as for industrial processes and agriculture. Solar thermal is a feasible technology, which provides green energy at approximately €0.1/kWh (US$.01). “Despite this very competitive price, investment costs still pose a barrier to growth” says Raffaele Piria, ESTIF secretary general. For the establishment of an European market for solar thermal energy systems, ESTIF is presently involved in several EU funded projects. Of these projects the following projects should be highlighted: Solar Keymark – aims at harmonizing test and certification procedures of solar systems at EU level, by introducing a pan European quality mark called Solar Keymark. Besides giving consumers quality assurance, the Solar Keymark also gives politicians on EU and national level a suitable platform or harmonization of subsidy schemes and of other initiatives to stimulate demand; Sun in Action II – will be the most complete study of EU and non-EU solar thermal markets available. ESTIF will also propose a long-term action plan for reaching the 100 Mio square meter collector target set by the EU White Book on Renewables 1997. Sun in Action II will be published by April 2003.