The Solar Lab built at the Consorzio ARCA, in Palermo,with its 3000 smq of extension, is the first pilot plant in Europe developed in urban settings. It is based on the concentrating mirrors technology, which are able to provide electricity, heat and cooling for multiple uses. The field is mainly devoted to the demonstration and testing of new solar components and technologies, but at the same time it is open to all the citizens, in order to let them get in touch with technology and with the work of researchers and companies.
It has been realized with a mix of regional, national and European financial resources. Installed in the campus of the University of Palermo within a larger area under renovation as a city park.
Some components derive from RTD activities involving regional SMEs participating into the supply chain.
Specific solutions have been developed to minimize the impact on urban contest or in area of archeological and natural interest.
Our solar technologies:
• CSP systems
• Molten salt storage
• Solar cooling
• Membrane desalination
Our solar plant:
The solar field (200 KWth) has a collecting surface of about 480sqm and adopts a linear Fresnel design with a compact focal distance.
High performance absorbers are heating a bioderivate oil with no environmental impact; the energy is stored by a 8m3 thermocline ternary molten salt tank.
A 23kW LiBr chiller and a 10 kW ORC generator are serving the demand of the close building (electricity, heat, cold).
Il sistema HCPV – CHP:
The energy of 2.000 suns is concentrated with parabolic mirrors into multi-junction cells Thermal energy is gained with a cooling system and stored at 70°C in PCM storage. Compact 2 axis tracker includes 20 mirrors and 20 MJ cells.
The CSP system:
CSP technologies can be applied for distributed energy production, on small-medium plants (on the 1 MW scale), to satisfy the needs of local communities, buildings and districts. To reinforce this concept, reliable, low-cost, and flexible small/medium multi-generative CSP plants have been built in four Mediterranean countries (Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, and Italy), characterized by different Concentrating Solar technologies (mini troughs or Fresnel collectors) and with different integration scenarios.
The technical objective is achieved combining and optimizing innovative subsystems for the efficient capture and conversion of solar energy to essential energy products and services: electrical power, air conditioning, and water treatment (e.g. desalination).
Together with conventional systems, innovative systems have been developed and tailored to the small scale plants (for instance, a single-tank Thermal Energy Storage system).
Our solar lab network:
Our ambition was to establish an internationally recognized network of centers for the design, prototyping and testing of solar components and systems suitable for the Mediterranean environment.
We work on downscaling technologies usually applied in big plants to the size of small energy districts, achieving flexibility, low impact, low soil consumption.
- The Solar Lab in Cyprus
The Solar Lab in Cyprus, installed at the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia, consists of a platform to provide cooling and heating to the Novel Technologies Laboratory (NTL), a near to zero energy building. A Fresnel collector of 70 kWth has been installed on the 352sqm roof of the KEPA School, close to NTL. The collector has an aperture area of 184 sqm and uses thermal oil at 180°C as a heat transfer medium. The heat is exchanged with pressurized water, then stored in a tank permitting 2 hours of autonomy.
A LiBr single-effect absorption chiller of 35 kW cooling capacity uses this heat to cool the NTL in summer. The chiller is bypassed in winter to produce heat directly. PV panels will be installed on the reverse side of the mirrors to provide electricity generation when the DNI is to low to concentrate.
- The Solar Lab in Jordan
The plant is installed on the rooftop of an educational building in Irbid (North of Jordan), generating electric power, cooling/heating, hot and distilled water by means of the single solar source. Solar energy will be collected and concentrated in a parabolic tough collector and then used to heat thermal oil to 240°C.
The thermal oil will drive the following equipment:
• Absorption chiller (water/ammonia 17kW) to provide space cooling
• Steam generator to generate superheated steam at 200°C which will be fed to steam turbine generating electricity (about 1.2 kW). The condensate from the turbine will be collected as distilled water in a tank
• Oil/water heat exchanger to generate hot water to be both used for space heating and stored in a tank for later use.
- Il Solar Lab in Egypt
The solar plant in Egypt has been constructed in an area close to Sekem medical centre, about 100 km south of Cairo.
The plant consists of one LF solar collector, installed on land, with a thermal power of about 120 kW, connected with a ORC system for the production of 5 kWe and a single-stage LiBr chiller to generate 35 kW of cold.
The plant will show the feasibility of multigeneration of three different forms of energy (heating, cooling and electricity) serving a typical Mediterranean public building.
Our energy vision:
• integrate and adapt innovative and small scale multigenerative units and applications in the urban environment
• develop an industrial approach to advanced multigenerative solar systems, exploiting the value of local supply chains
• improve the operational, technical and management skills related to the production, installation and maintenance of advanced solar systems
• increase the energy awareness of civil society, technical and institutional actors through the initiatives promoted at the Solar Labs
• specialize local assets, as solar energy, towards a sustainable and inclusive development process by the interaction of R&D institutes, companies, citizens and the public sector.