Objectives and problems to be solved: The EU policy is firmly supporting the development of renewable energies as one measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with a target to double the share of renewable in the EU energy balance by the year 2010. Solar thermal power plants in Mediterranean countries present an excellent option to contribute to this goal at competitive CO2- avoidance costs. Europe's first solar thermal tower power plant to be operated on a commercial basis is being planned in southern Spain. This 10 MWe system based on a metallic volumetric air receiver, will take a conservative design approach to minimise technical and financial risks. It is the objective of this project to develop and demonstrate a new volumetric air receiver technology which is based on ceramic volumetric absorber modules, resulting in improved reliability and performance with reduced component costs for the next generation of solar tower power plants. Description of work: The project consists of two consecutive phases. During the first phase, the design, manufacturing, treatment and assembly of the ceramic absorber modules will be optimised according to specified cost and performance requirements. The absorber module will be qualified in small-scale pre-tests. Steel structure supporting the absorber, warm air return system and passive control elements to homogenise the outlet air temperature will be developed. The qualified components will be assembled and tested at the 200 kith receiver test bed at the Platform Solar de Algeria. Material investigations on absorber material degradation will be performed with the exposed elements in order to estimate lifetime expectations of these new elements. The second phase will provide the necessary intermediate step in the scale-up to a large scale application, to reduce technical and commercial risks. A 3 MWth scale-up receiver will be designed, manufactured and tested in the existing 3 MW solar test bed for volumetric air receivers at the Platform Solar de Algeria. In order to minimise test costs, a modular design representing a typical section of the prototype power plant will be tested, to demonstrate specified performance and reliability criteria, and to gain operation and maintenance experience. In parallel, a detailed optimisation analysis on power plant cycles will be performed to fully exploit the expected benefits of this advanced receiver system. Expected Results and Exploitation Plans: The results of this project will be the detailed design of a modular second generation volumetric air receiver, and the demonstration of the 3 MWth test receiver system, which enables the consortium to implement this technology in the next plant after the 10 MWe Salutary plant under commercial conditions. In addition, an optimised cycle design will be available, which takes favour of the improved capabilities of the receiver with respect to high flu levels, large air return ratio and increased air outlet temperature. An overall reduction of solar electricity generating costs by about 10% are projected in comparison to the current volumetric air receiver technology.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts