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Three new energy research infrastructures get green light

Three new European energy research infrastructures have been given the go-ahead by European research ministers and the European Commission. The announcement was made at the Infrastructures for Energy Research conference (ENERI 2010) in Brussels, Belgium on 29 and 30 November. ...

Three new European energy research infrastructures have been given the go-ahead by European research ministers and the European Commission. The announcement was made at the Infrastructures for Energy Research conference (ENERI 2010) in Brussels, Belgium on 29 and 30 November. The new infrastructures are a wind research facility in Denmark, a concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in Spain and a nuclear research reactor in Belgium. All three appear in the updated roadmap of ESFRI (the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures), which is scheduled for publication before the end of the year. Under the newly launched Innovation Union initiative, the EU has set itself the challenge of launching 60% of the research infrastructures identified by ESFRI by 2015. The WINDSCANNER project involves a system that can generate detailed maps of wind conditions at a wind farm covering several square kilometres. The project, headed up by the National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy at the Technical University of Denmark (Risø DTU), uses laser-based devices called Lidars ('light detection and ranging'). A Lidar sends laser beams out into the air, and when they hit particles, they are reflected back to the Lidar. Information on these reflected beams can provide information about wind conditions. A single wind scanner consists of three Lidar systems working together to produce a three-dimensional map of wind conditions. Information provided by the WINDSCANNER will allow wind turbine manufacturers to match the size of a turbine used on a site to the local wind conditions, allowing wind energy to be exploited more efficiently. A mobile unit could be deployed to diagnose problems at existing wind farms that are repeatedly experiencing technical issues. Finally, the system could also be used to detect wind shear and turbulence along runways, making flying, and especially landing, safer. The WINDSCANNER project is expected to cost up to EUR 60 million and will become operational in 2013. 'We are pleased that the Danish test facility will now become part of the future joint European research infrastructures, so our knowledge and experience can be disseminated to other EU countries,' said Risø DTU Director Henrik Bindslev. 'We also trust the process to strengthen our own competencies within wind energy research as we intensify our dialogue with other wind energy researchers and companies.' At the other end of Europe, the EU-SOLARIS project is based at the Advanced Technology Centre for Renewable Energies (CTAER) in the Desert of Tabernas in Almería, southeastern Spain. With an annual insolation of 1,900 kWh/m2 (kilowatt hours per square metre), the site is perfect for an infrastructure project designed to take CSP technology to the next level. EU-SOLARIS' price tag is around EUR 80 million. In CSP, reflectors concentrate the sun's rays onto a receiver, where the thermal energy is converted into electricity. 'New scientific and technological developments require the experimental demonstration of the suitability, durability, reproducibility, efficiency and competitiveness of this concept, as they are intended to be deployed on a large scale,' reads a fact-sheet issued by the CTAER. 'The EU-SOLARIS facility will fill the gap from the theory or the lab scale test to a demonstration plant of almost commercial size.' Finally, the MYRRHA project, based in the Belgian town of Mol, concerns a nuclear fission research infrastructure. MYRRHA will allow researchers to investigate improved ways of treating radioactive waste to make it safer, faster. The infrastructure will also be used to test the feasibility of a new generation of nuclear power plants. The construction costs for MYRRHA stand at EUR 960 million; the engineering design of the facility is expected to be ready in 2014. 'Developing world-class research infrastructure in Europe, by pooling resources at EU level, is an important objective of the Innovation Union. These facilities will enable groundbreaking research and innovation and ultimately they could help to secure the EU's future energy supply,' commented the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. 'We need to bring research, technology, industry and market implementation closer together and that is the purpose of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan.'

Countries

Belgium, Denmark, Spain