In sunny regions, solar thermal power plants based on Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and equipped with large thermal storage units provide dispatchable electricity. Together with our partners, we are conducting research to further improve materials, coatings, components, collectors and systems, so that efficiency is increased and manufacturing costs are reduced. Thus, in 2020, Fraunhofer ISE presented a calibration and control system for heliostat arrays based on digital image processing. It allows the focal spot positions of many heliostats to be determined during  operation, in real time and cost-effectively, for the first time. We also optimize the quality and lifetime of components and have developed new reflector coatings for secondary reflectors in power towers, for example.

Thermal storage also offers great potential for industrial processes to become more efficient and energy flows to be designed more flexibly. In addition to specific storage solutions and energy-efficiency measures, we are working on integrating solar processing heat into the heat supply for industrial processes. We have developed a publicly accessible online tool for rapid techno-economic evaluation and presented it in workshops.

The efficient conversion and transfer of heat is another focus of our work. We conduct research on the materials and components needed for efficient heat exchange. Questions of humidification and dehumidification form the link to our work on water treatment. Under commission to a Chilean mining company, we set up a processing sequence to separate solar salt from Chilean salpeter sols on a technical demonstration scale and demonstrated its continuous operation.

Fraunhofer ISE possesses profound expertise in materials science, component design, characterization and testing procedures, modelling and simulation, systems control and systems development. The Institute can draw on many years of experience from projects on applications in solar-thermal power plants and in diverse industrial sectors.

Film Portrait Solar Thermal Power Plants and Industrial Processes