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MinWaterCSP: Reducing the Water Consumption in Concentrated Solar Power plants

Steinbeis 2i acts as partner in EU project

In Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, collectors are bundling the sunlight on an absorber in order to generate electricity. CSP plants are often installed in arid areas where solar irradiation is high and water resources are scarce. CSP plants making use of traditional wet-cooling systems consume a large amount of water because of both cooling system evaporation losses and mirror cleaning processes. Steinbeis 2i GmbH is acting as a partner in the EU project “Min- WaterCSP” which is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 program. The aim is to reduce the overall water consumption of a CSP plant while maintaining or even improving thermal efficiency and reducing capital costs.

Eighteen months into the project, the results are already promising. The project consortium has developed a hybrid dry/wet cooling technology to reduce the amount of water lost through evaporation in the CSP plant by 75 to 95% compared to a solely wet cooling system. The project partners have also built a prototype for an axial flow fan which has already been installed on a full-scale test facility in South Africa and is undergoing continuous testing. The team has successfully created prototypes for cleaning different types of solar panels for use with parabolic trough collectors and linear Fresnel reflectors. These should cut water consumption by 25%. A new demo site is currently under construction in South Africa for the hybrid cooling system and the CSP cooling fan. Software has been adapted for use with CSP plants so that the project team can also simulate water consumption, water quality, cleaning processes, and the energy required for cleaning. The idea behind reducing water consumption is to make CSP technology more competitive and more appealing to local communities, especially where the previous focus was on fossil fuels.

As a project partner, Steinbeis 2i is helping the project coordinator, Kelvion Holding, with the administrative and financial aspects of project management, also providing input on communicating, sharing and exploiting project results. The project also involves another 11 organizations in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Morocco, Spain and South Africa.