Tower at the solar thermal power plant in Jülich
An institute with sites in Cologne and Jülich is set to become the European pioneer in solar thermal power station research
Over the next five years, the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) will sponsor the formation of the DLR Institute of Solar Research within the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), with a grant of € 27 million. DLR is currently agreeing a schedule and roadmap with NRW for the best way to establish this unique pan-European institute for cutting-edge research. The new DLR Institute will collaborate closely with the Jülich Solar Institute at the Aachen University of Applied Sciences (Solar-Institut Jülich der Fachhochschule Aachen; SIJ, FH Aachen).
"In solar thermal power plants, the energy of the Sun is concentrated in such a way that environment-friendly electricity, entirely free of carbon dioxide emissions, can be generated. Researchers at the DLR Institute of Solar Research are working on ways of tapping into solar power in the Mediterranean to generate electricity in the future, for domestic use within Germany," said NRW Innovation Minister Andreas Pinkwart. "The technology behind solar thermal power stations is making a substantial contribution towards the DESERTEC (desert electricity project) industry initiative for which DLR has drafted the underlying concepts. Worldwide interest in this technology is massive. With this new research institute, NRW will be able to secure an important share of this booming export market."
The Institute of Solar Research will have its head office in Cologne, and at the same time, DLR intends to substantially expand activities in Jülich, near the solar tower. DLR has already provided scientific guidance and support throughout the planning, construction and commissioning of the solar tower at the Jülich site. The formation of the Institute of Solar Research will strengthen the Energy Research-NRW Cluster ('EnergieForschung.NRW'). It also builds on the energy research efforts in the Aachen-Cologne-Bonn region, with the Jülich site at its heart. Another two sites play an integral role, one in Stuttgart and the other in Alméria, Spain.
Unique expertise in the field of solar thermal power generation
Links with research and industry
"DLR's expertise and research infrastructure in the field of solar thermal power generation is unique globally. With its work in the allied research fields of gas turbine technology, materials technology, high-temperature heat storage and energy systems analysis, DLR is in the unique position to support industry in the establishment of solar thermal power stations and therefore to make significant contributions towards the implementation of the DESERTEC project," said Prof. Ulrich Wagner, DLR Director for Energy and Transport. "Due to their strong science infrastructure and their links to local industry, Cologne, Jülich and Stuttgart are ideal locations for the further development of Concentrated Solar Power."
Solar thermal power stations join wind power and biomass as important 'big technology' options for generating sustainable and carbon dioxide-free heat and power. These power stations are eminently suited to help provide southern European regions and countries around the Mediterranean, with electrical power, hydrogen, synthetic fuels and drinking water. It is envisaged that high-voltage DC power cables will be an effective way of transmitting some of the electricity generated by these solar power stations located around the Mediterranean to northern nations. The newly created DLR Institute sites in Cologne and Jülich will be actively involved in the development of these technologies.