Germany’s Wacker Chemie has signed an exclusive supply agreement with Chinese CSP developer Royal Tech for its silicone fluid heat transfer medium, Wacker Chemie said in a statement.

Royal Tech is currently developing a 50 MW parabolic trough plant in the city of Yumen in Western China and a 100 MW plant in Inner Mongolia.

The Chinese company has been involved in the research and development (R&D) and industrialisation of CSP technology since 2009. The company is involved along the value chain, from R&D through project development, component manufacturing, commissioning and maintenance.

Royal Tech tested Wacker Chemie’s Helisol silicone fluid in a year-long research project at its CSP test facility in Inner Mongolia.

The fluid can withstand thermal stress up to 425 degrees Celsius enabling high-efficiency levels, and has a freezing point of minus 55 degrees Celsius, significantly lower than conventional heat transfer fluids.

China plans to build 1.3 GW of CSP capacity by 2018 in a first batch of 20 CSP projects. The plants will benefit from some of China’s best solar irradiation conditions, but many of them will be subjected to extreme desert and winter weather conditions.

These include the Western regions of Qinghai and Yunnan provinces, which experience sandstorms and aridness, as well as mid-winter temperatures that can drop to minus 40 degrees Celsius and rise to up to 20 degrees Celsius in one day, Wei Zhu, CEO of Thermal Focus, a Shanghai-based provider of solar tracking systems, told CSP Today.

Cold weather could result in heat losses and reduce efficiency, resulting in higher expenses, Zhu said. Plants may require anti-freezing features and dry cooling to minimize water consumption in arid regions, he said.

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