- Interview with Javier López, researcher from CENER (National Renewable Energy Centre of Spain), the new RESLAG partner, a technology centre specialized in applied renewable energy research and development, therefore making its experience and knowledge extremely valuable to the project.
The European project RESLAG seeks solutions to the problem of steel mill slag through 4 eco-innovative industrial applications. One of these applications is the reuse of slag as a raw material for thermal energy storage (TES) systems in concentrated solar power (CSP) systems.
The Solar Thermal Energy Department of CENER, the new RESLAG partner, offers technological services and carries out applied research activities related to the thermal use of solar energy. Its main objective is to help improve solar thermal technologies and thus, facilitate their market penetration.
QUESTION. What has encouraged you to participate in the RESLAG project?
ANSWER. RESLAG is an innovative strategic project which builds the foundations to pave the way for commercialization and market replications of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) systems, using real operational information to feed business plans and market uptake. In addition, it implies a resource reuse mindset in the search for the energy storage cost reduction.
As a technology centre specialized in applied solar thermal research and development, CENER could not neglect the opportunity to apply its experience and knowledge within this project. Our duty is to support, participate, innovate and develop such ways to promote renewable energy as a viable energy resource, technically and economically founded.
Reducing storage costs facilitates full dispatchability and at the end, reducing the generated energy cost. Moreover, the reuse of slag materials contributes to reduce CO2 emissions and the environmental impact of storage materials used in CSP. Those are more than enough reasons to join as partners in this project and be an active part of the results.
Q. The main objective of RESLAG is to recover steel mill slag and reuse it as raw material in 4 innovative applications. What will be CENER’s contribution to the European project a year before its completion?
A. The main technical activity of CENER in this project is to assess the feasibility and performance of an up-scale thermal energy storage (TES) system for CSP applications and benchmark against conventional technology. As Task Leader of WP 7, CENER will fundamentally perform the following duties:
- Develop and coupling of an up-scale thermo-economic model of the innovative slag TES system to an annual plant performance model.
- Modelling and simulation of an up-scaled Central Receiver Power Plant with slag TES using Molten Salts as Heat Transfer Fluid.
- Energy Yield Assessment (EYA) of the full-scale power plant based on figures of merit as energy production, dispatchability and Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE).
- Benchmarking versus current TES technology using conventional two-tank Molten Salt storage.
- Preliminary design of an up-scale slag-based packed bed TES system with breakdown of quantities of each subsystem broken down by component.
- Feasibility and pre-engineering concept-level study for the up-scale of the RESLAG technology to a full-scale power plant of 100 MWe, covering the disciplines of process, equipment, civil, arrangement, instrumentation, controls and mechanical engineering.
- Bringing support to the economical assessment (Task 7.3) as main contributor providing EYA results and the concept-level study conclusions in order to help developed the Life Cycle Costing (LCC) approach.
Q. Have you ever been involved in a similar project before? What are your expectations?
A. The Solar Thermal Energy Department of CENER has leaded key activities for solar applications, such as modelling and design and has participated and coordinated several and relevant projects in the national (e.g. MIRASOL: Materials and innovative design Research for Advanced Solar Receivers (2013 – 2017)) and European Framework Programmes (EUROSUNMED (2013-2017), STAGE-STE (2014-2018), CAPTURE (2015-2019)), MOSAIC (2016 – 2020) which are mainly focused on improving high temperature CSP concepts and cost reduction.
With a technical team of highly qualified professionals, the Solar Thermal Energy Department of CENER is an international reference in the Concentrating Solar Power field. CENER’s team has participated, with different degree of involvement, in more than fifty CSP plant projects in Europe and elsewhere, many of them in the fields of solar radiation and solar thermal concentrating systems and supported through private and public funding. The reports and lessons learned from these activities have resulted in more than 170 publications, including books, technical reports, papers in reviewed journals and conference proceedings.
The activities of the CENER team in these projects range from site monitoring and solar resource characterization to modelling of plants, estimates of annual electricity generation and feasibility studies. These projects have CSP plant configurations that differ in capacity, choice of technology and options regarding storage working from research at laboratory scale to the design, construction and its final evaluation. The experience acquired in these projects and the very sophisticated methodology developed by CENER for their development place the team in a unique position to make any project a success.
Moreover, CENER is a member of the Steering Committee of the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA). EERA is an independent alliance of public research centres and universities from all across Europe. The sub-program for Point Focusing CSP Systems defined in the Joint Program on CSP is coordinated by CENER.
CENER has been involved in the development of standards for CSP since the very beginning. In 2009 was promoting together with AENOR (the Spanish standardization organization) the creation of a technical subcommittee for CSP standardization. Finally, at the beginning of 2010 the AENOR subcommittee AEN/CTN 206/SC1 “Thermoelectric Solar Energy Systems” was established.
Therefore, our main expectation should be to increase the prestige that precedes us by demonstrating and exploiting once again the expertise of our technology centre.