The implementation of solar thermal process heating systems often fails due to excessively high investment costs and payback periods. The customary individual planning and individual production at the respective location contributes disproportionately to the costs and risks of error of such systems. The aim of the joint project is therefore to simplify the integration of solar heat into industrial process heat systems by developing and testing a standardized, modular power transfer station, or Balance of Plant (BoP), and thus to remove a major obstacle to the increased use of solar process heat.
Three competing manufacturers of different concentrating collector types share their experience in solar process heat with a specialized plant engineering company and two research institutions to jointly develop a largely standardized modular and scalable power transfer station as an interface between solar field and industrial process heat system. Figure 1 shows the typical functional modules and interfaces of such a BoP.
Different standardization classes will be defined, for which the power transfer station is designed as identically as possible. The test units will be integrated in real systems of customers of the three collector manufacturers and validated by measurement campaigns. Figure 2 shows how the various work packages of the research project and the commercial projects of the collector manufacturers are interrelated. The research project investigates systems using thermal oil as heat transfer medium in the solar field, while they are supplying industrial processes operated with steam, thermal oil or air. The modular concept is intended to make it possible to integrate other primary circuit modules for alternative heat transfer media at a later stage. The systems will be prefabricated and tested as a container solution so that they can be transported to the customer ready for use. An example of such a functional module is shown in Fig. 3.
The aim of the project is to significantly reduce the engineering and manufacturing costs at the interface between the solar heat generator and the industrial process heat system by means of a standardized, modular power transfer station. The modular design allows the flexible exchange of functional components within a standardization class. The use of standardized components and approvals significantly reduces planning and implementation efforts, thereby lowering costs and removing barriers.