We are providing a ‘toolbox’ for concentrating solar power (CSP) plant designers. This will be a set of alternatives for the operating conditions of the plant depending on its geographical location, climate conditions and access to water.

At a glance

  • DatesJanuary 2016 start (four years)
  • SponsorEuropean Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme
  • Funded€5.94 million
  • PartnersCEA and Hamon d’Hondt in France; CIEMAT-PSA, Tekniker and Rioglass in Spain; MASEN in Morocco; DLR Germany; Archimede Solar Energy in Italy; OMT Solutions in the Netherlands; and AMIRES in the Czech Republic

We are the only UK research institution working on concentrating solar power (CSP) technology and its applications. The fourth European Union-funded project we have secured on the CSP theme is WASCOP (Water Saving for Solar Concentrated Power).

CSP plants require large amounts of direct sunlight and so are found in increasing numbers in desert regions of the world, particularly the sun-belt regions of 15-40° latitude.

Water is a precious resource in such locations, and the cleaning of the solar collecting mirrors requires water to remove sand and dust. Even more water is needed to cool the steam turbine, in common with most power plants.

In total, a typical CSP plant consumes water at a rate of 2,000 – 3,000 m³/GWh of electrical power generation. In regions of high scarcity, water can cost up to €10 per m³, including water transportation costs; and the profitability of CSP plants can become uncompetitive.

This project aims to address these issues and fund the development of new technologies to reduce the water usage.

Solar panels
A large CSP plant in Spain – the Andasol plant in Aldeire, Granada, was opened in 2008

Progress update

WASCOP is seeing two of our specialisms, Manufacturing together with Energy and Power, collaborate. Dr Chris Sansom and his CSP team in the Precision Engineering Institute are working on dust barriers, anti-soiling processes and water reduction for mirror cleaning.

The work of Dr Kumar Patchigolla in the Power Engineering Centre includes dry cooling of the steam turbine and waste heat storage and release mechanisms. The teams will combine to consider the humanitarian, social, economic and environmental impact of their solutions.

Following initial experiments on the Cranfield campus, the technology developed will be tested at the CIEMAT-PSA in the Tabernas desert in Andalucia, followed by prototype installation in one of the Moroccan CSP plants.

Further information

Visit the Wascop project website