Catalin Draguleanu, country sales and operations manager at Ariston Thermo Romania, estimates that some 30,000 Romanian houses have been fitted with solar panels in recent years. However, the country still lags behind mature economies in Western Europe on new capacities.
What is Ariston’s focus this year?
For us, the growth drivers have been established for a few years, and don’t have anything to do with disconnections from the centralized heating system. They involve the buy-back program, meaning the replacement of the old wall-hung boilers. We are preparing for a replacement market and for the development of a new range of products with greater energy efficiency, such as the condensing wall-hung boiler. We estimate the wall-hung boiler market stands at between EUR 70 and 75 million, and we hold a 30 percent market share.
What is the structure of your business?
At present, around 60 to 65 percent of our business comes from wall-hung boilers, and electric boilers have a 25 percent share, while heating pumps account for 10 percent. We believe there will be some changes in the share of wall-hung boilers, as the condensing boilers increase their share of our turnover. We have a wall-hung condensing boiler at half the normal price only for Romania to convince Romanians to adopt condensing technology.
We expect a 12 percent growth in turnover this year (from around EUR 30 million in 2012), due to volume gains in electric boilers and from wall-hung condensing boilers and solar systems.
How can solar grow without the Casa Verde state scheme?
While last year it was clear the program would stop, and the systems tailored for Casa Verde are not selling anymore, we posted 25 percent growth in the systems we sold prior to this program. A lot of solar systems are fitted in villas or houses. I think there are around 30,000 solar housing solar systems in Romania. This figure is still low. We are still trailing Poland, Germany and Austria.