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Fraunhofer, Solar Tower Technologies AG collaborate on new project

Partnership focuses on development of new technologies for more cost-efficient solar tower power plants using solar thermal energy.

The cooperation project “HelioPack – Entwicklungspaket neuartiger Technologien für solarthermische Turmkraftwerke” (freely translated to “HelioPack – Innovation Package for Solar Thermal Power Towers”) is supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). 

The goal of the project is to create cost savings whilst boosting efficiency gains via an optimised construction of heliostats as well as an improved tracking and control to achieve a more precise concentration of solar beam radiation onto a newly developed receiver.1

Under the terms of the collaboration, the two project partners — Solar Tower Technologies AG, located in Starnberg, and Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg — will develop new, cost-efficient solutions over a period of 3.5 years. Specifically, Fraunhofer ISE’s activities will focus on the optimisation of heliostats, their tracking and control, as well as on modelling and simulation of components and power tower plants. Meanwhile, STT’s activities will focus on the construction and manufacture of heliostats and the development of a new receiver. 

Supported by Fraunhofer ISE, STT will develop and improve their proprietary technology. To test the heliostats developed in the project, Fraunhofer ISE will establish a test site in the Freiburg area.

“With the know-how generated in this project, we will be able to offer future customers research and development services to further improve components for solar power towers or to manufacture them at reduced cost,” said Dr. Peter Nitz, project manager of HelioPack at Fraunhofer ISE. 

Dr Antoine Bittar, chief science officer at STT, added: “Through this cooperation we want to further develop and strengthen the advantages of STT technology: reliability and cost competitiveness.” 

1. In solar tower power plants, solar beam radiation is redirected by a multitude of tracked mirrors (heliostats) onto a central receiver mounted at the top of a tower. The extreme concentration of radiation generates very high temperatures at the receiver unit where the thermal energy is transferred to a heat transfer fluid. The thermal energy is used to drive a turbine and generate electricity in a power block. As an alternative, the energy may be completely or partly stored in a thermal storage, to be used for electricity generation at a later time. In this way, solar tower power plants can generate dispatchable power around the clock and thus can contribute significantly to grid stabilization in regions of high direct solar irradiation.


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Energy efficiency  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity