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HELIOtube Report Summary

Project ID: 697197

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HELIOtube (Inflatable solar collectors for a low cost CSP Plant with irreducibly small carbon footprint)

Reporting period: 2015-11-01 to 2016-04-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The main advantage of solar thermal power plants over photovoltaic systems is the option to integrate very economic storage capacity leading to a predictable renewable power source for peak- or base- load demand. Various studies have shown that Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) offers great potential for commercial energy production in the desert regions of North Africa and the Middle East as well as in the arid southern regions of the United States and Europe, where the evening peak in power consumption cannot be effectively covered by PV.

However, current CSP technology solutions are still too cost-intensive. Heliovis proposes an innovative patented CSP technology that by reducing the construction and operational costs of the solar field enables the wide spread of the CSP both in smaller-scale (industrial heat) and in utility-scale (electricity generation) applications and the fruitful exploitation of this efficient renewable energy.

Objectives of the overall innovation project:

Technical objectives
1. Final engineering and optimisation of the scaled-up solar collector (9m diameter, 220m long) and all relative supporting structures.
2. Industrialization of the in-house pilot production line for HELIOtubes (partly automated roll-to-roll process).
3. Large scale in-field demonstration of a complete system: MVP of scaled-up HELIOtubes installed and operated for one year in Spain, in Villalgordo del Júcar, to supply thermal energy to the industrial facilities of the company Mercajucar Soc. Coop..

Strategic objectives
1. Optimized materials-/ components selection including expanding the supply chain.
2. International industrial visibility
3. Reliable Operation & Maintenance planning
4. Product qualification.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

In the first 6 months of the project the SME beneficiaries focused on engineering and optimizing all system components for the up-scaled HELIOtube collector and to complete its design.
A critical aspect of the tube engineering was a deep analysis of the wind loads to identify and size the necessary wind protection devices and to decide the final tube geometry and field configuration. Theoretical, numerical (extended CFD analysis) and practical (evaluation of design data in model scale in a wind tunnel) tests were planned and performed based on the operational and maintenance details as well as on the draft geometrical layout of the HELIOtube reference system.
Specifications for the plastic film were defined and the mounting and suspension structures designed, with materials selected.
The in-house roll-to-roll production line was up-scaled and started to be adapted for full industrialisation of the large tubes.

6 deliverables and 2 milestones have been successfully achieved.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Progress beyond the state of the art:
A Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant uses heat from the sun as a primary source of energy by the bundling of sunlight. CSP plants use focusing collector surfaces (e.g. glass mirrors) to focus incident sunlight onto an absorber (e.g. a black tube filled with thermal oil). During this process, the collectors track the sun. Depending on the design, these power plants achieve higher efficiencies than photovoltaic systems, but have higher CAPEX, operating and maintenance costs and are required to be of a specific minimum size. Compared to photovoltaic systems, it enables the integration of a low-cost energy storage system.

Heliovis has developed and patented a new class of inflatable solar collectors for solar thermal power plants, using the most extreme lightweight construction technology thereby reducing the main costs. Costs are typically expressed in terms of the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), which is the total cost of producing a unit of electricity (e.g. a kWh), including all occurring costs (CAPEX, OPEX) over the lifetime of the plant. Compared to most advanced glass mirror-based glass technologies HELIOtube will reduce the CAPEX for the solar solar field by 55%.

This cost advantage is achieved through:
1. Less expensive materials used and reduced amount needed; roll-to-roll production, reduced need for foundations due to the lightness and stability of the design;
2. Very low logistics and installation costs

Economic Impact:
The global market for CSP is a fast growing market, estimated to triple in three years, till 4,900 MW capacity installed planned. In addition to this figure, Saudi Arabia alone plans to tender 1,000 MW of CSP-plants per year until 2032. The SME beneficiaries estimate to enter the market with solar thermal applications and a significant number of HELIOtubes produced.

Societal Impact:
European Commission has declared a shortage of investments in research and innovation activities in the CSP sector, which could improve the practical viability of setting up large-scale power plants. Also TRANS-CSP estimates a total cumulative investment of €47 billion until 2020 and €395 billion until 2050 will be necessary for CSP and HVDC (High-Voltage, Direct Current) gridlines installations if exports to Europe from Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions are to be considered. The objectives of the HELIOVIS project address these global challenges and specifically align with the EU 2020 targets with respect to climate change and energy, being: greenhouse gas emission 20% lower than 1990 levels; 20% of energy from renewables; 20% increase in energy efficiency. Heliovis innovative solution, HELIOtube, enables a minimal carbon footprint power plant. Each solar-produced kWh avoids a kWh created by power stations burning coal, gas and oil, on average 686 gCO2/kWh, a significant amount when considering the potential market size for the HELIOtube enabled CSP generation.
Record Number: 191338 / Last updated on: 2016-11-15
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