SinoTrough – Parabolic Trough Technology for a Sustainable Energy System in China

Duration: 5/2019 - 4/2022
Contracting Authority/ Sponsors: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), CLIENT-II
Project Partners: Schlaich Bergermann Partner – sbp sonne GmbH, Royal Tech CSP Limited, Chinese Academy of Science,  
Project Focus:
Concept sketch of the SinoTrough project.
© Fraunhofer ISE
Concept sketch of the SinoTrough project.
The first commercial CSP power plant in China: 50 MW CGN Delingha with 9h of storage and 9120 EuroTrough collectors, technology supplier and technical support: sbp sonne.
© sbp sonne
The first commercial CSP power plant in China: 50 MW CGN Delingha with 9h of storage and 9120 EuroTrough collectors, technology supplier and technical support: sbp sonne.
CSP power plant in Delingha.
© sbp sonne
CSP power plant in Delingha.

Just like in Germany, there is also an urgent need for solar thermal power plants and their solar collectors in China. The aim of the project “SinoTrough” is to develop an innovative parabolic trough collector for solar thermal power plants in the Chinese market. Parabolic trough collectors concentrate the sunlight onto the absorber of a solar thermal system. This should support the transformation of the Chinese energy system and the associated reduction in CO2. The collectors are to be specially designed for the Chinese market. This means that, on the one hand, they have to be adapted to the particular environmental conditions in the harsh desert climate and, on the other, they must be produced, assembled and operated in a socially responsible manner in China.

In the project, technological and socio-economic aspects are closely interlinked.

The technical development in this project will go far beyond the current state-of-the-art technology. Innovative solutions for current challenges regarding all core components of the collector are being examined. These include the absorber, the reflectors, the rear structure, the drives as well as pipe connections and valves. With regard to the collector, innovative technological ideas for improving collector efficiency and adapting the product to the Chinese market will first be investigated. As a result, the collector will be designed taking into account the climatic, technological, logistical and economic requirements of the Chinese market. Finally, the prototype will be built and measured.

In order to pave the way for a higher proportion of CSP technologies (concentrated solar power, solar thermal power plant) in the future energy system, the requirements will be analyzed in a model region in China to be determined in the course of the project and a workshop will be held with stakeholders to increase public acceptance.

In addition to involving stakeholders, the role of CSP power plants in the Chinese market will be analyzed using Fraunhofer ISE’s simulation tools. In this way, the potential of a storable and predictable power generation technology should be identified in order to permanently strengthen acceptance.

At the end of the project, a prototype of the new collector adapted to Chinese conditions will be built, measured and demonstrated in China. Broad future application is to be supported by the model region studies conducted for use on the energy system and by the analysis of the socio-economic acceptance of CSP in China.

The aim of the project is that, after successful development and product launch in China, the SinoTrough can also be offered in other markets, thereby contributing to the transformation of the global energy system. Conceivable transfer markets would above all be the Middle East, North Africa and South America.

SinoTrough was launched by Fraunhofer ISE. Fraunhofer ISE is the coordinator in this joint project, leading the overall project and is also responsible for the socio-economic study, energy system analysis and technology assessment, investigation of innovative manufacturing technology as well as surveying and qualification. It is supported by sbp sonne GmbH, which is responsible for the development of the collectors and for consultation on construction and surveying. There is also a close cooperation with Chinese partners to build and test the prototype.