Website The Project WBDMS News Events January 2012
newsletter1
MATS project approved by CE.Bruxelles, Belgium, 19th July 2011
news1The MATS (Multipurpose Applications by Thermodynamic Solar) project has been approved by European Commission and funded under 7th FWP (Seventh Framework Programme). The project has the following Reference: 268219. The start date of project is 2011/07/19 and the end date 2015/01/18 with a duration of 42 months. The MATS total budget is 20,46 million € and funding for 11.76 million € (Cordis).
The MATS Project aims at promoting the exploitation of concentrated solar energy through small and middle scale facilities, suitable to fulfill local requirements of power and heat, and easily to back-up with the renewable fuels locally already available or that can be expressly produced.

In this way the Project meets the European energy policies, aimed at increasing the exploitation of renewable energy sources, and solar plants in the so-called “sun belt”, i.e. the geographic regions where it is most convenient extensively using solar radiation as primary energy source. As a demonstration area the Mediterranean basin has been chosen, because it indeed belongs to the “sun belt” area: in particular plants will be installed in Egypt.

The Project has an innovative central point in the Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems which convert solar radiation to high temperature heat suitable for thermo-electric power generation and/or other industrial or residential applications, differently from photovoltaic (PV) cells that directly convert solar radiation to electric power. Therefore, MATS project will develop and demonstrate a new CSP plant that maximizes the utilization of the collected heat for different applications: besides electrical power production, other services actually powered by fossil fuels can be achieved, including sea water desalination and district heating/cooling. Here there is the source of the name of "MATS": Multipurpose Applications by Thermodynamic Solar (MATS) Project.
Kick-off Meeting of the MATS ProjectRome, Italy, 25th July 2011
news1The Kick-off Meeting of the MATS Project has been organized in ENEA Headquarter with the participation of the representative of the Italian and Egyptian Governments, the representative of the European Commission in the person of the MATS projects Officer dr. Pietro Menna, all the MATS Project Partners, Sponsors and the Press.
After his welcome address, the ENEA’s Commissioner Giovanni Lelli remembered the long ENEA history to face the challenges of the future in the energy sector, from the nuclear energy to the task of dealing with all types of energy, according the mission of supporting Italian energy policy through the promotion and innovation of sustainable technologies. Dr Lelli pointed up that MATS project answers to two important ENEA missions: innovation in technology and international co-operation.
As innovative project, it is focused on the innovative CSP technology developed by ENEA as an improvement of its Solar Thermodynamic technology. As far as the international co-operation, under the auspices of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and the Egyptian Ministries of Research and of Energy, the project promotes the aim of making Egypt an important pole for the generation and distribution of solar energy.

A general overview of the technical characteristics of the project has been offered by Fabrizio Fabrizi, who spoke after Pietro Menna: he underlined that the innovative CSP technology, developed by ENEA, is an improvement of its Solar Thermodynamic technology, based on molten salts as Heat Transfer Fluid and Heat Storage Fluid. It allows combined heat and power production from solar source integrated with renewable fuels, such as biomass or biogas.

The partners consider that, in the above framework, we have already reached an important goal, that is the application in the “7th Framework Programme - Energy” Call of the Multipurpose Applications by Thermodynamic Solar (MATS) Project. .
MATS in EgyptEgypt, January 2012
news1Because of the agreement between the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and the Egyptian Ministries of Research, the objective of the proposal is the full scale demonstration of TREBIOS technology through the industrial development, the realization and the experimental operation of a multipurpose facility to be installed in Egypt. The thermal energy produced by this plant will be used as energy source in a desalination unit included in the installation, as well as for district heating and cooling. The use of suitable heat storage systems enhance mismatch of power production from the instantaneous solar radiation availability. These features enable electrical energy production "on demand" and the optimized utilization of captured solar energy by additional loads like desalination units. The integration with a back up gaseous fuel, from biomass or natural one, makes the system flexible and enables continuous power production. Besides, it will represent the start-up for a development of specialized local industries.

Egyptian Partners have proposed to investigate the following sites:
  • Borg Al-Arab (N. Coast)
  • Al-Arish (N. Coast)
  • Zafrana (E. Coast)
  • Hurgada (E. Coast)
  • Marsa Alam (E. Coast)
They are near the coasts and important communication routes, according a traditional way of landscape management in Egypt. In particular, in Borg al-Arab a City for Science and Technology has been created, in which no to high buildings have been realized, separated by flowerbeds, according the most recent indications of the city planning. Some buildings in pyramid form are a homage to the ancient history and traditions of that Country.

Differently from photovoltaic (PV) cells that directly convert solar radiation to electric power, Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems convert solar radiation to high temperature heat suitable for thermo-electric power generation and/or other industrial or residential applications. The CSP concept is based on the use of mirrors to concentrate a large area of sunlight, the “solar field”, onto a small area, the “receiver”. Four different types of CSP technologies have been proposed: towers, dishes, parabolic troughs and Fresnel reflectors. These differ on the type of mirrors, receivers, heat transfer fluid and concentration factors. Today the most installed technology is the parabolic trough one.
By using parabolic trough collectors, ENEA has developed an innovative CSP technology based on a molten salt mixture functioning as heat transfer fluid and thermal storage. Compared with diathermic oil, this technology allows the operating temperature to be increased up to 550°C, thus resulting in significant benefits as to the plant’s operation, safety and environmentally-friendly impact. Other considerable advantages derive from the possibility to produce a steam with similar quality to conventional steam cycles, and an efficient thermal energy storage, thus increasing the “dispatchability” of the heat and power produced against the unpredictability of the solar source.
MATS project aims at developing and demonstrating a new CSP plant that maximizes the utilization of the collected heat for different applications: besides electrical power production, other services actually powered by fossil fuels can be achieved, including sea water desalination and district heating/cooling. Here is the source of the name of “MATS”: Multipurpose Applications of Thermodynamic Solar.

Thermal storage, by means of the molten salts, allows satisfaction of the demand for such essential services (electrical power, deionized water, heating, cooling, etc.) regardless the availability of the primary enery source (solar radiation), e.g. during night hours or cloudiness. Moreover, in order to minimize costs and guarantee supply of these services even during protracted cloudy days (as in winter time) the integration of the CSP plant with a back up auxiliary fuel is considered in MATS. Such an integration is foreseen at the molten salts level, in order to completely mismatch the steam cycle - i.e. the service production units - from the instantaneous and seasonal weather conditions. Biomass or a biomass derived fuel can be considered as back up source, in order to make a complete renewable system; differently, this hybridization of the CSP plant can be achieved by the use of Natural Gas (locally widely available in the some Mediterranean countries).
Therefore, MATS will develop and demonstrate a flexible plant concept to achieve the most rationale utilization of the locally available energy sources.
Another important feature of the technology proposed in MATS is the development of such co-generative CSP plants modular small-medium scale, to be applied even in isolated sites where energy supply is costly and difficult (e.g. islands or off-grid sites).

MATS project will demonstrate and evaluate this system at a “real scale” in Egypt, consisting of 18 solar trough rows, 100 meters each, for an overall area of ca. 2-3 ha, for the production of ca. 5 MW thermal power. Besides the favorable solar radiation level, Egypt is considered as an ideal location for such a project for several reasons, including great visibility and the opportunity to launch new industrial production chains for components in a country with great potentials.