Application of Solar Thermal Energy to Processes (ASTEP) will create a new innovative Solar Heating for Industrial Processes (SHIP) concept focused on overcoming the current limitations of these systems. SHIP is becoming increasingly relevant as one of the ways to meet the high thermal energy demand required for industry. This involves a double benefit:
- firstly, by using a renewable energy source, fossil fuel consumption is reduced and therefore the emission of pollution and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere;
- secondly, heat for industrial processes becomes a new market niche for solar technology, which can lead to a decrease in the cost of solar collectors through economies of scale in manufacturing and learning-curve advances in deployment.
ASTEP will demonstrate its capability to cover a substantial part of the heat demand of the process industry at temperatures above 150 ºC and for latitudes where current designs are not able to supply it.
This solution is based on modular and flexible integration of two innovative designs for the solar collector (SunDial) and the Thermal Energy Storage (TES), based on Phase Change Materials (PCM), integrated via a control system which will allow flexible operation to maintain continuous service against the unpredictable nature of the solar source and partially during night operation. These aspects will provide a very competitive solution to substitute fossil fuel consumption. Its modularity and compactness will also enable easy installation and repair with reduced space requirements, while most of components can be sourced locally. Finally, another characteristic of the solar collector that is proposed is that it can be adapted to different industrial processes demanding heat at different temperatures.
The successful completion of ASTEP will provide guidelines for planning, installation and operation of thermal solar systems in industrial companies and will quantify the performance of the developed innovative technology considering several technical and economic parameters.
This new EU-funded Research & Innovation Action, is coordinated by Professor Antonio Rovira, representing the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), in Madrid, Spain.