A R+D activity integrated in Plataforma Solar de Almeria

Head of Unit:   Loreto Valenzuela Gutiérrez

The CONCENTRATING SOLAR SYSTEMS UNIT (USSC) is one of the Plataforma Solar de Almería’s four R&D units and its staff is distributed between the CIEMAT facilities in Madrid and Almería. The Unit’s main purpose is to promote and contribute to the development of solar radiation concentrating systems, both for power generation and for industrial processes which require thermal energy at temperature levels from 150°C up to temperatures above 1000°C.

This Unit consists of two R&D Groups:

The activities carried out within the USSC are in the framework of some of the main research lines which are defined as partial objectives:

  • development of new components for concentrating solar systems, with better quality/price ratio,
  • development of new experimental capabilities and simulation tools for characterization, analysis and diagnosis (optical, thermal, etc.) of this type of solar energy technologies (point and line focus technologies),
  • to launch and promote innovative actions related to concentrating solar technologies, pathing the way to technological improvements in the mid and long-term (such as demonstration projects, prospective and feasibility analysis, etc. ), and
  • to facilitate the development and consolidation of a national industry specialized in concentrating solar systems, by techno-scientific assessment and technology transfer.

Activities carried out by the Unit are developed in the framework of national and international R+D projects funded by agencies in competitive calls. But also there is an intensive collaboration with centers and companies for the development, testing, evaluation and assessment which is done in the framework of bilateral R+D agreements or service contracts, or just by mean of technical services.
In the line of supporting the industrial sector, two important activities must be outlined: the participation of different working groups on standardization which have been built up under the umbrella of diverse public and private initiatives, and an important participation in initiatives and projects aiming to obtain a better cohesion of the sector and line up with common objectives, funds and effort at a European level. 
In the field of standardization, a pressing need of the solar thermal sector, the USSC is participating in all fora and Working Groups that have been created with this purpose:

  • The AEN/CTN 206/SC 117 Subcommittee “Centrales termosolares”, created by the joint initiative AENOR, PROTERMOSOLAR, CENER and CIEMAT. Within this Subcommittee the USSC participates in its three Working Groups, devoted to: GT1: Power plants, GT2: Components, and GT3: Thermal Storage Systems. Both GT1 and GT3 are coordinated by staff members of the USSC.
  • The Working Groups defining procedures, guidelines and/or techniques in Tasks I, III, and IV of SolarPACES, a technology collaboration programme of the International Energy Agency for the development and promotion of the concentrating solar power.
  • The TC117 Technical Committee, created within the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in 2012 to develop new standards at international level related to solar thermal power plants.

Following with the policy of dissemination of knowledge, and in accordance with our desire to facilitate the development and consolidation of a strong industry, specialized in concentrating solar thermal systems, and facilitate the knowledge of this renewable energy technology in the society, the USSC maintains an important activity in courses, seminars and events related to concentrating solar technologies and their diverse applications at both national and international levels.

The high level of specialization of the scientific and technical staff members of this R+D Unit, together with the excellent experimental facilities and laboratories available at the Plataforma Solar de Almería, make possible a large range of activities.