The Spanish solar research institute of DLR is in the south-eastern province of Almería, on the fringe of the Tabernas Desert, at the Plataforma Solar de Almería (PSA), offering research trips for students completing their doctorate. 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.
DLR played a major role in its planning and construction, and has been using the facility from the word go. It has on-site staff to conduct its own solar-technology research and development in collaboration with Spanish partner organisation CIEMAT, which owns and operates the facility today.
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.