Hydrogen from sunlight – A visit to Plataforma Solar in Almería

16 May 2017

Show Info
Hide Info
Use <Escape>, to leave fullscreen.
  • Besuch auf der Plataforma Solar de Almería
    Visit to the Plataforma Solar de Almería

    From left to right: Sixto Malato, Director of PSA, Christoph Richter, DLR, Bernhard Hoffschmidt, Director of the DLR Institute for Solar Research, Maria Luisa Castaño, Director for Energy and Deputy Director General of CIEMAT, Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board, Nicolas Peter, Head of International Relations at DLR, Julian Blanco, Deputy Director of PSA, and Peter Heller, DLR.

  • Herstellung von Wasserstoff aus Sonnenenergie
    Using solar power to produce hydrogen

    Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board (l), and Maria Luisa Castaño, Director for Energy and Deputy Director General of CIEMAT, in front of the HYDROSOL Plant reactor at the Plataforma Solar de Almería.

  • Teststand KONTAS (KONzentrator Teststand Almería Spanien)
    KONTAS, the concentrator test rig in Almería, Spain

    The delegation visits KONTAS (concentrator test rig in Almería, Spain), which is used to optimise parabolic trough collectors.

For years now, scientists from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have conducted research at the Plataforma Solar de Almería (PSA) in the south of Spain, which is operated by partner organisation CIEMAT (Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology). At this location scientists are developing and optimising methods and components for solar power plants, as well as measurement procedures designed to increase power plant efficiency. A few years ago their research also began to include a focus on the development of methods to produce hydrogen. Professor Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board, visited the research facility together with CIEMAT's Deputy Director General Maria Luisa Castaño on 18 and 19 May 2017.

"The work conducted by the DLR energy researchers at Plataforma Solar makes important contributions to climate-neutral energy supply. Cooperating closely with CIEMAT and industrial partners, they address a broad range of long-term topics, for instance the use of solar power to produce hydrogen, as well as applications to optimise solar thermal power plants that directly address the needs of the market," said Ehrenfreund during her visit. She joined a delegation of Spanish research partners to inspect the HYDROSOL Plant test reactor, which is installed on one of the solar towers. The reactor is located on a research platform 25 metres above the ground. The 90 mirrors enclosing the tower concentrate solar radiation onto the reactor, which heats up to 1,200 degrees Celsius. Researchers use this energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Research to increase the efficiency of solar power plants

On site the delegation also visited KONTAS (concentrator test rig in Almería, Spain), used to optimise parabolic trough collectors, as well as the SITEF project in which new thermal oils on a silicon basis enable higher operating temperatures in parabolic trough power plants. PSA researchers also presented the survey method Qfly that uses quadcopters to quickly and precisely map and analyse the reflective capacity of entire solar fields. The final stop entailed a visit to the meteorological measurement station METAS, which produces detailed surveys of solar radiation intensity as the crucial input variable in the operation of solar thermal power plants.

Another destination during the trip to southern Spain was Andasol 3, a parabolic trough power plant with a capacity of 50 megawatts that has fed electricity into the grid since 2011. The facility also uses heat storage units to continue producing power for up to seven hours after sunset. DLR’s solar research, especially at the Almería site, provided numerous services that contributed to the development, realisation and optimisation of the Andasol power plants.

Last modified:
22/05/2017 15:45:38



Dorothee Bürkle
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Media Relations, Energy and Transport Research

Tel.: +49 2203 601-3492

Fax: +49 2203 601-3249