The ”Towards Competitive, Reliable, Safe and Sustainable Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Plants” (TOPCSP) doctoral network offers a unique international, intersectoral and interdisciplinary research and innovation framework to 10 promising doctoral fellows. The research and training activities of TOPCSP will boost the fellows’ excellence in the development of innovative technologies and so that they will be capable of solving the challenges that currently face the solar thermal power industry. CSP plants with thermal storage are capable of providing dispatchable power to the grid or controlled process heat and, hence, constitute a key technology for the word’s transition to a renewable & carbon-free energy generation system.
In the proposed DN TOPCSP, we establish the overall research objective of improving the design of the different systems of a CSP plant to increase its cost-competitiveness, reliability, environmental profile, and operational safety. The research programme of this project is organised into three work packages:
These WPs will contribute to the overall research objective by:
WP1 comprises activities oriented towards increasing the efficiency of CSP plants working with conventional nitrate molten salt (Tasks 1.1-DC1 and 1.3-DC3) and lower size direct steam generation plants (Task 1.2-DC2). In WP2, high-temperature liquid receivers (Task 2.1-DC4), the power cycle to be integrated with this receiver (Task 2.2-DC5), and novel systems to enhance CSP system dispatchability such as an electrically heated molten salt reservoir and a reactor to produce solar fuels (Tasks 2.3-DC6 & 2.4-DC7) will be proposed and studied using simulations and experiments. WP3 develops new scientific approaches and computational tools to assist in the design, optimisation and evaluation of the environmental profile of CSP systems, (Task 3.1-DC8, Task 3.2-DC9, Task3.3-DC10)
The network will train 10 doctoral candidates (DCs) with the solid technical and scientific knowledge and transferable skills needed to contribute either from the academic or the industrial sector to the attaining these targets. TOPCSP, where different techniques (experimental and simulations) will be used to solve technical problems in different CSP plant subsystems (from the solar field to the power block).
The members of TOPCSP are among the most relevant organisations in CSP and related fields. TOPCSP will foster unique synergies between the members, making them the most suitable beneficiaries and partners to implement an excellent training programme for CSP technologies. Specifically, the beneficiaries of the consortium have been working in research on CSP for more than 10 years and are specialised in the different CSP subsystems. They are consolidated research groups in the areas of thermal engineering, fluid mechanics, structural engineering, material science and computational science. Among the industrial beneficiaries, John Cockerill Renewable is one of the main solar receiver producers in the world and Virtualmech is a dynamic start-up company with expert researchers in CSP structural simulation.
The associated partners of the network include industrial and high-tech companies specialised in manufacturing different CSP plant subsystems of. Acerinox is one of the most competitive groups in the world in stainless steel manufacture. Brembana&Rolle is a leader in the design and manufacture of high pressure and high temperature equipment for power generation. Members of Solarlite are pioneering in the technology of electric heat exchangers for thermal storage and hybridisation in CSP. Synhelion has developed a cutting-edge proprietary technology to turn sunlight and CO2 into solar fuels to unlock a clean future for transportation. CIEMAT-PSA and ENEA are among the largest centres for concentrating solar technology R&D and testing in the world. Europamedia has long-standing experience in training on EU project development.