Project SOLARX: Production of Heat, Electricity and H2 from Solar Energy
The project “Dispatchable concentrated Solar-to-X energy solution for high penetration of renewable energy (SOLARX)", funded by the Horizon Europe program, was launched on November 1, 2022. The main objective of the 3-year project with a total budget of 3 million euros is to demonstrate at laboratory scale the technical, economic and social relevance of the efficient synergic production of heat, electricity and hydrogen from the solar resource in a single facility. The consortium is composed of companies, technological centers, industrial partners and universities: HyGear (Netherlands), Acciona Industrial (Spain), EMD International (Denmark), Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE (Germany), Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (Denmark), Laboratoire Nanotechnologies et Nanosystèmes de la Université de Sherbrooke (CNRS, France/Canada) and accelopment Schweiz AG (Switzerland).
“SOLARX addresses not just challenges related to solar resource characteristics and technological challenges, but also explores ways to manage the whole innovation process along the entire value chain integrating insights from the social sciences and humanities”, says Prof. Jerôme Barrau from the Higher Polytechnic School, University of Lleida, the coordinator of the project.
Main objectives of the SOLARX project
In a scenario where the percentage of energy produced by intermittent renewable energy sources is constantly growing, the current energy infrastructures are inefficient and there are difficulties in integrating this generation. The production of carbon-neutral and high-efficiency energy, adapted to local demands, would be a breakthrough. SOLARX integrates 3 high-concentration solar based technologies (electricity generation, thermal energy for storage and/or for industry and green hydrogen or Synthetic gas) and intelligent resource management based on artificial intelligence, to produce several energy vectors, already either directly with high efficiencies or through storage stages to maximize services to distribution networks and/or revenues.
Three key technological elements will be developed in the project: an intelligent solar resource management algorithm that aims to meet the demand for instantaneous energy, a high-efficiency concentration photovoltaics (CPV) receiver and a carbon-negative bi-energy hydrogen receiver (that can be powered directly by concentrated solar energy, or alternatively electrically).
Within SOLARX, Fraunhofer ISE is responsible for the work package “Solar management and control strategies”. Its main goal is to provide a smart solar resource management system to align production and energy demand. The group will develop a parametrized optical model of the heliostat field, concentrating solar thermal (CST), CPV and hyrogen receivers, set up a DNI now-casting system suited for SOLARX and define advanced adaptive aiming strategies for the flux distribution on the three receivers. It will develop and demonstrate in a lab a closed-loop heliostat field control system, derive a simplified black-box model for optical yield as input to the techno-economic analysis and elaborate parametrized thermal, electrical and solar chemical models for the CST, CPV and hydrogen receivers, respectively.
SOLARX is funded by the European Union (grant no. 101084158) and supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.