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FP7

INTERSOLAR Result In Brief

Project ID: 605028
Funded under: FP7-SME
Country: United Kingdom

Easier inspections for concentrated solar power technology

As the demand for energy continues to increase the search is on to develop renewable energy resources that can meet the demand for growth across the European Union. The answer may lie with concentrated solar power (CSP), a promising means of large-scale sustainable energy production.
Easier inspections for concentrated solar power technology
The renewable energy source with the highest potential for growth is CSP. It comprises three commercially viable technologies based on parabolic troughs, solar power towers and Linear Fresnel Reflector (LFR) designs, respectively. In 2015, there were more than 35 CSP plants of various sizes in the EU, producing more than 2.5 GW (gigawatts) of power and representing more than 55 % of the total global CSP capacity.

However CSP plants suffer from operational reliability issues, which depending on the plant type can be related to failure of the solar absorbers, coolant system piping, heliostats or central tower receiver. Failure of solar absorbers and coolant system pipes can disrupt production and result in significant maintenance costs.

The EU-funded project INTERSOLAR (Development and demonstration of intelligent non-contact inspection technology for concentrated solar power plants) sought to significantly reduce the number of failures associated with coolant system and absorber tubes of CSP plants.

Currently the inspection of CSP tubing and piping is very challenging. Therefore, the aim was to minimize corrective maintenance costs through the development and successful implementation of an intelligent guided waves inspection platform based on the use of preferably non-contact Electromagnetic Acoustic Transducer Sensors (EMATs).

Project partners developed and demonstrated an innovative and intelligent structural health monitoring system for CSP plants using EMATs, which could be installed in the field for long-term online operation. The development work included EMATs modelling and the manufacturing of sensors for monitoring solar receivers and insulated pipelines.

A key aspect of the project was the demonstration of the integrated system as well as its individual subcomponents in the field followed by successful commercialisation. In order to achieve this, the consortium conducted extensive trials on the bespoke test facility developed by the consortium.

INTERSOLAR will have a profoundly positive impact on the CSP industry as it will enable a greatly improved maintenance strategy to be achieved, thereby minimising downtime. This will increase productivity and consequently the profitability of CSP plant operators.

Related information

Keywords

Concentrated solar power, INTERSOLAR, intelligent guided waves electromagnetic acoustic transducer, intelligent structural health monitoring system
Record Number: 191030 / Last updated on: 2017-02-08