The use of solar thermal energy in industry and tertiary sector is currently insignificant, even though this application has a huge technical and commercial potential, about 30% of the overall energy demand in the partner countries originates in the industrial sector, mainly as heat at temperature levels below 250 °C. In several specific industry sectors, such as food and beverages, transport equipment, machinery, textiles, the share of heat demand at low and medium temperatures (below 250 °C) is around 60%. Tapping into this potential would provide a significant solar contribution to industrial energy requirements.
The main focus in this project will be on activities which support the decrease of cost, increases the modularity of systems and which supports the increase of the thermal supply. Also, the improvement of electronic controllers will be a focal point.
ASTEP aims to extend the use of solar thermal energy to industrial processes by implementing innovative, reliable, and advanced technologies to assure a reliable solution needed for continuous operating process.
ASTEP also aims to support additional projects beyond the demo sites, providing insights for the project’s development and to further create opportunities for the replication of the demo sites. This system will be installed in two different climate regions: Corinth in Greece, which is located at a latitude where the use of solar energy is more widespread, and Iasi in Romania, located at a latitude where the use of solar energy is less common. This aspect is expected to increment the visibility of such solar applications in EU countries with less favourable climatic conditions.
The ASTEP concept is based on the 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). A thoughtful designed control system allows flexible operation, maintaining continuous energy production against the fluctuating solar resource and partial energy production during the night.
ASTEP has several innovative components which will contribute to the progress of the current state of the art and turn the Europe into a leading player in the renewable energy market.
The major advantage of ASTEP system is its primary source of energy is solar power, which is sustainable and renewable. Existing solar energy-based technologies used in industries for thermal demand (heating and/or cooling) perform in a varying proportion depending on the daytime and season, thus impose high requirements of solar energy as a main source.
On the other hand, solar thermal technologies are oriented towards the production of heat and/or cold at small and intermediate scales and are usually complemented by using a backup boiler, which makes the system costly, complex and difficult to maintain.
The new ASTEP integration process address the foreseen problem and progress beyond state-of-the-art Innovation potential.
The partners have been selected from the leading groups in Europe to have complementary technical capabilities, infrastructure and know-how to reach the ambitious technological goals of the project. The consortium assembled represents the state-of-the-art with regard to solar thermal energy and storage and advanced process integration, hence as a whole is the best-placed consortium to deliver the planned technological innovation.