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European collaboration to develop solar energy in North Africa

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IK4-TEKNIKER is participating in the EUROSUNMED project designed to transfer solar energy technology to Egypt and Morocco

The members of the project, with a budget of €5 M, will be meeting between 7 and 11 April in Rabat to discuss solar energy

Today, solar energy constitutes an unmissable opportunity for any economy, but it is even more than that for countries in the north of Africa, with many days of sunshine throughout the year. In order to strengthen research to lower the cost of solar energy technologies while at the same time contributing towards the development of Morocco and Egypt, the European Union has launched the EUROSUNMED project, which has a budget of 5 million euros.

The initiative in which IK4-TEKNIKER is participating is geared towards collaboration between European and African companies and academic and research centres. Led by the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), it has the participation of 17 universities and top research centres in the European Union, in addition to organisations from Egypt and Morocco.

The main aims of the project are the development of technologies like photovoltaics and solar concentration for obtaining solar energy, as well as integration of electrical power grids. The initiative also includes aims like the testing of the most innovative components. In addition, networks for collaboration will be set up in the EU, Egypt and Morocco with projects like the exchange of students and engineers, and the results of the project will be disseminated.

The project, which has been recently set up, will include the testing of innovative components including cells or heliostats capable of functioning under the specific conditions of the countries in the Mediterranean basin characterised by the harshness of the climate or problems with desert sand.

Solar thermal systems

The task of IK4-TEKNIKER, the only Spanish organisation participating in the project alongside the National Centre for Renewable Energies (CENER), will involve working to cut the costs of solar thermal systems (concentrated solar power or CSP) by developing new concepts of heliostat and improving the properties and durability of the reflecting mirrors.

Both the frames and the reflecting mirrors of solar plants need to be rethought to withstand desert operating conditions, which are considerably more aggressive than European climate conditions. The collaboration among European, Moroccan and Egyptian institutions will make it possible to ensure that the developments can be rapidly deployed in these countries and that the local industrial base will be capable of handling the technology, manufacturing a considerable number of the components and effectively operating and maintaining the facilities throughout their useful service life.

The results of the project will drive forward the research and development activities of technologies like photovoltaics, CSP (concentrated solar power) or grid integration in the European Union, as well as in Egypt and Morocco. Strategies will be established to balance the power for the grids in Morocco and Egypt, and long-term channels of collaboration will be created between both sides of the Mediterranean.

EUROSUNMED is set to contribute towards the development of renewables and to cut dependency on fossil fuels, but it also seeks to contribute towards strengthening the weak, North African economies.

Seminar

The project members will be participating in a workshop on concentrated solar power, energy storage and grid integration scheduled to take place in Rabat (Morocco) from 7 to 11 April, 2014. During this event, IK4-TEKNIKER will be presenting its knowledge in various papers on concentrated solar power, electrical power storage systems and thermal storage systems.

IK4-TEKNIKER

The Basque R&D centre is a benchmark in the area of renewable energies and solutions for storing them. Apart from solar thermal energy IK4-TEKNIKER is developing cutting-edge technology in other renewables like wind turbine technology. Its facilities house the first Centre for Advanced Manufacturing in the Basque Country focussing specifically on wind energy and which was inaugurated a few days ago.

With experience spanning 30 years in research into applied technology and its transfer to companies, in addition to making advances in the development of Social and Healthcare Technology, the technological centre IK4-TEKNIKER has achieved a high degree of specialisation in four major areas (Precision Engineering and Mechatronics, Surface Engineering, Production and Automation Engineering, and Manufacturing Technologies), which enables it to put its state-of-the-art technology at the service of the business and social base.

EUROSUNMED is a project funded by the European Commission under the ENERGY theme of the 7th Framework Programme (FP7-ENERGY).

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