On the 15th of November, the SUPEERA project travelled to Almería, Spain to discuss research-industry cooperation on the topics of Energy Storage and Concentrated Solar Thermal (Power & Heat) technologies (CSP/CST). The full-day workshop, which took place in hybrid mode, was co-organised with EERA Joint Programmes ES and CSP/CST and it allowed a fruitful knowledge exchange between the panellists and more than 60 participants, the majority of them travelling to PSA facilities (CIEMAT) in Almería. The workshop saw the participation of professionals, experts, and researchers across the EERA community, along with key representatives from the energy industry in Spain. The agenda was divided into four main sections at the end of which, a panel discussion offered the opportunity to boost animated and insightful discussions.
The workshop was introduced by the Chair of the Implementation Working Group on Concentrated Solar Power and Solar Thermal Electricity (CSP/STE), Cristina Trueba, who gave an overview of the SET Plant and discussed the importance of cross-cutting issues related to CSP (such as the integration of CSP and PV). In the introductory session, the speakers also presented the SUPEERA project to the audience and illustrated some key findings from the analysis of all 27 National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) best practices and gaps in energy storage among Member States.
Ivan Matejak, SUPEERA Project Coordinator, opened the session that focused on the collaboration between research and industry, highlighting the fundamental role that the research community can have in the development of low-carbon technologies in both the long and short term. The first part of the session was closed by the coordinators of the Joint Programmes on ES and CSP/CST, who explained the structure, vision, and objectives of the two JPs.
Thereafter, the perspective of the industry sector was delivered by representatives of some prominent CSP actors. The panellists highlighted some crucial challenges that CSP companies are currently facing, such as the need to bring down CAPEX and OPEX costs and increase the reliability of CSP technologies. In the panel discussion that followed, the speakers further elaborated on these topics, focusing on key areas (normative, technical, and economic) for improvement in the CSP/CST and energy storage sectors. For example, a key point stressed during the discussion was the need for a qualitative improvement in the way the hot tanks are built in CSP plants.
The third session focused on cross-sectorial issues relevant to the clean energy transition. It was opened by a presentation on the role of these issues in providing coordinated input to decision-makers as well as creating a framework that goes beyond specific technologies. During the session, the speakers also gave an overview of the several benefits of CSP and thermal storage for the clean energy transition and illustrated the importance of digitalization and digitization to accelerate the development of CSP technologies.
The workshop closed with a session on the role of energy storage in future power grids, which saw the participation of representatives of research and universities. In particular, the panellists focused on the critical role of thermal energy storage in reducing the impact of industrial processes on the grid and illustrated some of the challenges related to the availability of raw materials for energy storage technologies. Moreover, it was highlighted that cheap and massive storage systems will increase the flexibility and dispatchability of the entire electricity system. In this regard, the speakers agreed that seasonal energy storage will be crucial in the clean energy transition.
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