Strong Irish involvement in new €6m solar energy project

  • Project aims to reduce cost & improve viability of solar energy

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25 April 2013: Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and Clontarf-based renewable energy company RED-T (Renewable Energy Dynamics Technology Ltd.) are involved in a three-year €6m European research project on solar energy. RED-T’s application process was assisted by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

The two Irish organisations are being funded to a total of €650,000 from the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to provide their input. Funded through the European Commission’s Department of Research and Innovation, the project is aimed at improving the performance and viability of solar energy for Europe.

Called PV Crops ("PhotoVoltaic Cost reduction, Reliability, Operational performance, Prediction and Simulation "), the 12 partner pan-European consortium is working together to deliver 19 results including solar power technology developments, company spin-offs, toolbox solutions, database systems, technical documents, and training.

The combined turnover of the 12 organisations involved in PV Crops is in excess of €3bn.

RED-T provides specialist knowledge in the dynamic area of flow battery energy storage. The incorporation of energy storage in PV generation plants will allow further mitigation of power fluctuations, allowing shifting the power injection from its generation by the PV modules. This proposal aims to integrate flow batteries into PV systems. The integration of RED-T’s patented flow batteries in PV systems will contribute to mitigate PV power fluctuations and to help the grid to incorporate more than 30% of PV generation. It will also allow maximizing the benefit from the sale of electricity at peak-demand prices, thereby reducing overall electricity tariffs. The funding to RED-T for the project is €375,000.

DIT is providing its recognised expertise in solar power generation to the project group through it’s research teams in the Dublin Energy Lab (DEL) and the Electrical Power Research Centre (EPRC). Also, with DIT’s Hothouse team commercialising research at five times the average rate of universities in Europe, the Institute will head up many of the PV Crops’ commercialisation activities that are aimed at delivering the outputs the project is working to provide. The funding to the DIT is €275,000.

Co-ordinating the PV Crops consortium is the Instituto de Energía Solar of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid who were instrumental in involving three energy companies in the project, Acciona of Spain, ONE of Morocco, and SunSwitch of Belgium

Acciona Energía is the largest developer and constructor of wind power plants in the world. With photovoltaic solar power, Acciona has installed, operated and maintains more than 100 megawatts, with over 2,000 customers. It also owns one of the largest PV plants in the world, located in Portugal (46 megawatts).

L’Office National de l’Electricité (ONE) is the exclusive electrical grid operator in Morocco with more than four million clients. In 2011 ONE’s rural electrification programme had over 50,000 homes in 3,600 villages equipped with a PV kit. ONE is also developing a 150 megawatt solar plant in the province of Ouarzazate. It will be the world’s largest PV facility.

SunSwitch is the biggest installer of solar systems in the Wallonne region of Belgium with over 5,000 PV/solar installations.

The PV Crops consortium will initially work on developing hardware and software solutions aimed at refining and enhancing the testing systems at PV Plants and BIPV (Building-Integrated Photovoltaics). In tandem, the group will work on toolboxes for prediction of energy production and for managing the resulting power fluctuations.  Diagnosis tools are also to be developed that will uncover performance failures of PV systems.  At the end of 48 months it is planned to be able to deliver tried and tested energy management and storage systems tailored for PV plants & BIPV companies.

To learn more about DIT’s involvement in the PV CROPS Project, contact the Hothouse Technology Transfer office on (0) 1 402 7179 or email enquiries to hothouse@dit.ie

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