Austrian collector manufacturer Tisun is currently the supplier for three major projects in Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. Its subsidiary, Tisun GCC, and two Dubai stakeholders have been the ones helping the company enter the Arab markets. Since 2010, Tisun has had a local subsidiary in Dubai, Tisun GCC. Tisun’s first reference project in the region was a 500 m² solar field built in 2012 for a food-processing factory and it has opened many doors since.
The Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI) and the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC) have teamed up for the international Solar Payback project, which aims to increase the use of solar thermal energy in industrial processes. The photo shows the partners during the Kick-Off Meeting in Mumbai, India, on 16 December 2016. Supported by the German Federal Environment Ministry funded by the International Climate Initiative, the three-year project will be implemented in India, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil. It is coordinated by the German Solar Association BSW-Solar and eleven partner organisations: three German companies, plus each target country’s national solar industry association and German chamber of commerce.
India has been witnessing renewed interest in solar thermal in the wake of some successful installations. Dish-type concentrating systems have the potential to generate hot water above 100 °C. But in many places, insufficient space or unsuitable roof structures are roadblocks to increased deployment. Several Indian start-ups have used evacuated tube collectors (ETC) with compound parabolic concentrators (CPC), popularly known as non-imaging collectors in India, for solar process heat applications which require medium-pressure steam at around 150 °C. These collectors consist of evacuated double-glass tubes with bent aluminium mirrors underneath. The CPC mirror guarantees that fewer tubes are required per unit area and over 90 % of the gross collector area is used optically. So far, the aluminium sheets for the systems have been imported, but one local manufacturer will start operations soon.
The 191 solar process heat projects which have made it into the online database http://ship-plants.info/ add up to an installed capacity of 0.11 GWth (0.159 million m²), which is only a small fraction of the potential estimated for this type of application. To quantify the technology’s global opportunities, the researchers from the now-completed four-year Task 49 / IV, Solar Heat Integration in Industrial Processes, analysed the results of several national studies which had tried to determine the potential of solar process heat while considering restrictions such as temperature range and the space available for the systems (see the chart on the left). “For Europe, where mainly non-concentrating collectors had been investigated, the percentage of technical potential for solar process heat related to the total industrial heat demand is around 3 to 4 %,” was the conclusion by the authors of the attached report Potential studies on solar process heat worldwide.
The IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report or MTRMR 2016 again includes a chapter on renewable heating and cooling – and it’s growing in size. The 282-page document published from Singapore on 25 October analyses on 47 pages the current and future market development of four renewable heating technologies: biomass, solar thermal, geothermal and heat pumps. The IEA began to add a renewable heating chapter to its MTRMR in 2013 – back then, it had only 14 pages. The authors of this year’s edition emphasise the fact that onshore wind and solar PV are the only renewable technologies on track for a 2 °C target.
The new interest subvention scheme for Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) technologies administrated by the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) is now open for applications. The scheme has been developed in cooperation with the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) during the GEF-UNIDO-MNRE project, which focuses on increasing the deployment of concentrating solar thermal systems for process heat applications in India. “Technology providers or beneficiaries can use a short-term bridge loan at normal interest rates for pre-financing the 30 % capital subsidy that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy grants for CST technologies,” explained Dr Anil Misra, National Project Manager at UNIDO (see photo). IREDA also hands out long-term loans covering up to 45 % of the benchmark system cost at 5 % lower-than-usual interest rates. The remaining 25 % are required as equity by the beneficiary.
Arcon-Sunmark has announced the completion of a second solar-heated copper mine project. In September 2016, the Danish company installed a 6,270 m² collector field (4.4 MWth) at La Parreña in central Mexico. A 30 September press release said that the solar field would cover 58 % of the mine’s demand for heat. The field consists of 456 components of nearly 14 m² each and a storage tank of 660 m³. The first project of its kind, a field of 39,300 m² (27.5 MWth), was completed with a joint-venture partner at the Gabriela Mistral mine in Chile in 2013. Being the world’s largest solar system for process heat application, it had produced 142,000 MWh in the first 35 months of operation, the press release said. This corresponds to a specific yield of 1,112 kWh per m² and year.
Pampa Elvira Solar (PES) operates the largest solar process heat installation worldwide, a 27.5 MWth collector field at the Gabriela Mistral mine in Chile. “It´s an every-day, every-hour struggle to harvest the sun and earn our wages, so we may continue the very humble – and much too often neglected – business of running a solar heat-delivering system in the middle of the desert,” said Ian Nelson, General Manager of Pampa Elvira Solar. Solarthermalworld.org spoke with him about dust problems, the opportunities of concentrating collectors, the challenges of ESCO operation and improved copper cathodes. Five-and-a-half years ago, the engineer started at Energía Llaima, an independent producer of hydro and solar thermal solutions. PES, which was founded in 2012, is a consortium of Danish company Arcon-Sunmark and Energía Llaima.
The world’s largest process heat installation has recently completed its third year of operation. The 39,000 m² collector field, which went online in October 2013 at Codelco´s Gabriela Mistral mine, is located 100 kilometres south of the town of Calama in Chile´s high central desert. Planning, delivery and installation of the solar field were done by Chilean-Danish joint-venture Pampa Elvira Solar, which has since been the operator of the system as well. The plant provides around 80 % of the energy required for the last step in copper production, the electrolytic refining of the metal in an acid bath. Solarthermalworld.org spoke with Roberto Roman, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Physics and Mathematical Sciences of the University of Chile. Roman has been part of a university team advising Codelco, Chile´s state-owned mining company, on solar mining from the very beginning.
Researchers at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have observed a renewed interest in solar process heat applications in recent years, mainly thanks to “the improvement and proliferation of solar collectors for electricity generation and the development of sophisticated solar collector modelling tools.” Last year, two of those researchers – Parthiv Kurup and Craig Turchi – conducted a study on the potential of solar process heat provided by concentrating collector technologies in California (see the attached document). This study, entitled Initial Investigation into the Potential of CSP Industrial Process Heat for the Southwest United States, was supported by the US Department of Energy and was published in November 2015. The chart taken from it shows the annual energy use of steam in industry segments which utilise the largest amount of gas. The study’s authors found the temperature range from about 120 to 220 °C to be of great interest, as it enables the use of concentrating optics and of water as the heat transfer fluid.