At the Plataforma Solar de Almería (PSA) in the south-east Spain Almeria province, near the desert of Tabernas, scientists of the DLR Institute of Solar Research work under optimal climatic conditions. On this site, which exceeds 100 hectares, the full force of the Andalusian sun has been exploited since 1980 to test and optimise a variety of high-temperature solar technologies under conditions that approximate practice. More than 20,000 square metres of mirrors of various shapes in different test facilities concentrate the direct solar radiation to generate high and extremely high temperatures. These futuristic facilities in the midst of a barren landscape form the largest European test centre for high-temperature solar concentrating technologies: it is a world-leader in terms of variety.
Owner and operator of the PSA is the Spanish research center CIEMAT, a longtime partner of the DLR. The DLR was involved in planning and construction of the PSA and uses it since the beginning with scientific staff on site for its own solar technology testing and development work.
Opportunities for students
In the context of the ongoing R&D work, placements are often offered to European students completing their theses, or as part of a sandwich course in the fields of physics, mechanical engineering and surveying.
Projects conducted at the PSA concentrate on the further development of thermal solar power stations. These technologies tie in with the technology of conventional power stations; however, they provide the turbines or motors with the required heat in the form of steam or heated gas from concentrated solar radiation. Experiments into conversion of chemicals under concentrated radiation and thermal energy storage are also carried out. The projects are aimed at the development and testing of key components, sub-systems or assemblies and are generally implemented in collaboration with other international partners in the fields of research and industry.
Work during postgraduate research, or a placement at PSA during a degree course offers students the opportunity to work on the development of such systems. The work is generally structured in areas such as construction, thermodynamics, energy technology, radiation technology, optical measurement technology, measurement and control technology. Study visits usually last at least six months.