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Solar Twinning to Create Solar Research Twins

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SolarTwins (Solar Twinning to Create Solar Research Twins)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-03-31

Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) is one of the renewable energy technologies identified in the European Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan as being a core part of Europe’s envisioned energy transition. CST is an umbrella term that includes Solar Heat for Industrial Processes (SHIP), Solar Thermal Electricity (STE/CSP), and Solar Fuels. SolarTwins is designed to leverage and strengthen Europe’s position as a global CST leader by Twinning the promising CST research division of METU’s Center for Solar Energy Research and Applications (GUNAM) to the globally leading CST institutions CIEMAT-PSA (Spain) and DLR (Germany). This Periodic Report covers the first 15 months (01 Jan. 2020 - 31 Mar. 2021) of the 3-year SolarTwins project.

SolarTwins’ overall objectives are to
1) Step-up the CST scientific excellence and innovation capacity of METU;
2) Strengthen METU’s synergistic integration into European CST Research and Innovation (R&I) activities and networks in which CIEMAT-PSA and DLR play leading roles.
3) Bring new competitive funding to METU, CIEMAT, and DLR to sustain the Joint Research Lines (JRLs) developed within SolarTwins.

SolarTwins’ specific objectives are to
1) Develop and sustain promising JRLs between METU and CIEMAT in SHIP technologies for water treatment, and between METU and DLR in high-temperature SHIP technologies;
2) Have experts from CIEMAT and DLR train and mentor METU Early Stage Researchers (ESRs);
3) Exchange personnel between METU and each of CIEMAT and DLR for knowledge transfer, training, mentoring, and networking;
4) Strengthen METU, Regional and National R&I Capacities;
5) Strengthen METU-GUNAM's research profiles.
The main work performed over the 1st 15 months of the SolarTwins project is broadly classified into five activities.

1. ODAKtr: The Turkish CST initiative ODAKtr was conceived and is being incubated within SolarTwins to strengthen and exploit synergies between a cluster of EU activities in which METU, CIEMAT, and DLR are participating with objectives to

a) Support Turkey’s energy transition through the development and commercialization of CST technologies;
b) Catalyse domestic CST economic activity by supporting growth in markets, industrial capacities, and industrial activities;
c) Strengthen Turkey’s CST R&I capacities, including by creating globally competitive CST research opportunities at Turkish universities and research centres.

2. Joint Kick-Off Activities at METU: In late February 2020 experts from CIEMAT (4) and DLR (3) visited METU for 1-week of Joint Activities at METU that included a 1-day open workshop framed under the larger national ODAKtr initiative described above. The workshop included 25 presentations (10 by SolarTwins participants and 15 from Key Stakeholders external to SolarTwins) and reached 92 diverse participants.

3. Individual Twinning: Individual Twinning activities were executed to develop synergistic JRLs between METU and each of CIEMAT and DLR that are to be sustained by securing additional competitive funding and used as a framework to train individual METU ESRs. Initial Individual Twinning actions focused on transforming the promising JRLs identified in the SolarTwins Proposal into 9 well-defined JRLs as part of a larger SolarTwins Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA). Activities to realize these JRLs are continuing.

4. ODAKtr Webinar Series: An ODAKtr Webinar Series was developed and executed over the winter 2020/2021 through SolarTwins targeting the METU SolarTwins’ Team specifically and the larger key Turkish CST community more generally. In total, eight 1-hour webinars were given over a 9-week period: 3 by CIEMAT experts; 3 by DLR experts; 1 by a METU researcher who just completed a post-doc at CIEMAT; and 1 by the coordinator for the aligned H2020 HORIZON-STE project. In total the webinars attracted 257 participants.

5. Capacity Building: To strengthen METU’s and Turkish capacities to win competitive EU funding, an EU proposal writing training module was developed and executed 4-times in the fall 2020. These trainings were developed to complement the widely available EU proposal writing trainings by sharing experiences and lessons-learned elaborating the SolarTwins proposal within a Turkish context and providing insight into how EU proposals are evaluated based on the SolarTwins coordinator’s experiences supporting the evaluation of several EU calls. In total 81 people participated in these EU Proposal Writing trainings.
1. Turkish Funding to join EU-SOLARIS ERIC: A proposal to secure national funding for Turkey to join the EU-SOLARIS distributed CST European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) with CIEMAT and DLR was accepted in the fall 2020. Efforts are continuing to align Turkish and EU regulations to enable Turkey to join EU-SOLARIS ERIC.

2. Turkish funded post-doc: The individual networks strengthened through SolarTwins were used to secure a Turkish-funded 10-month post-doc scholarship for a member of the METU SolarTwins team at CIEMAT for 2020 to support the definition and execution of a JRL.

3. Green Deal Proposal: A CIEMAT-METU JRL led to these two institutions collaborating on a Green Deal proposal that was submitted in early 2021 and is currently under review.

4. JRLs: The JRLs have resulted in METU and DLR identifying a METU PhD student to co-advise, exchanging material samples for testing, and exploring opportunities to collaborate with Turkish industry. METU and CIEMAT are developing ideas to collaborate on a Turkish national proposal.

5. Open Science and ODAKtr: Over 400 Key Turkish CST Stakeholders attended SolarTwins Open Events (Kick-Off Open Workshop, ODAKtr Webinar Series, and EU Proposal Writing Training). The ODAKtr platform has been instrumental in enabling the SolarTwins consortium to engage and mobilize the larger Turkish CST community, and is expected to be a stable and long-term national platform that enables and sustains SolarTwins’ impacts after the SolarTwins project has ended.
SolarTwins Joint Kick-Off Activities @ METU: Final Lunch
Roll-up poster for Open ODAKtr Event as part of SolarTwins Joint Kick-Off Activities @ METU
Joint Kick-Off Activities @ METU: Open ODAKtr Event
Joint Kick-Off Activities @ METU: Research Sharing
Joint Kick-Off Activities @ METU: Research Sharing
Roll-up poster for SolarTwins Joint Kick-Off Activities @ METU
Joint Kick-Off Activities @ METU: Research Sharing
Joint Kick-Off Activities @ METU: Research Sharing
Joint Kick-Off Activities @ METU: Open ODAKtr Invited Speakers