MATS Project

Project summary

Solar energy is a reliable and proven renewable source for generating electrical power and water with improved environmental and socio-economic factors, compared to other resources. However, solar energy is a fluctuating and fairly unpredictable source, unable itself to fully satisfy end-user needs. Its availability depends on night and day cycles and weather conditions, determining over-production during solar radiation peaks and shortages during unfavorable conditions or high-energy demand peaks.

Therefore, the challenge is to identify and exploit the appropriate technologies that can conveniently integrate solar energy in the current energy system and secure a stable supply to final users. Suitable energy storage systems can stabilize and smooth out solar energy fluctuations, while the integration with a back-up fuel makes the system more flexible and enables stable “ON DEMAND” supply.

The MATS project “Multipurpose Applications by Thermodynamic Solar”, co-funded by the European Union under the 7th Framework Programme, is designed to achieve these goals. Thanks to the development of an innovative solar technology, the project aims to demonstrate secure production of electrical power and water supply for a community of at least 1,000 people in a desert area, through the following main steps:

  • Solar energy is captured and stored as high temperature heat, to generate superheated steam to drive a thermo-electrical steam cycle;
  • It is also supplemented with a gas fuel to demonstrate the best integration between solar (renewable) and conventional heat sources for a stable heat and power supply, and;
  • Electrical power production is combined with a desalination unit using residual heat to produce demineralized water from salty water.
This way, it will be possible to generate electricity and co-generate fresh water in a desert region, supporting social and economic growth of the area.

The MATS Consortium includes partners from Italy, Egypt, France, Germany and the UK. The lead partner of the Project is the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA). The lead Egyptian research partner is the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT) in Egypt. The total budget of the project is 22.0 Million Euros. The project received 12.5 Million Euros funding from the European Union and 2.4 Million Euros from ASRT.

Thanks to the successful cooperation between Egyptian and European research organizations and companies, MATS Concentrating Solar Power plant has been built inside the City for Science and Technology (SRTA-City) in Borg El-Arab. The plant is the first of its kind in the world with its unique features of environmental friendly fluids, easy management and flexibility of operation.

City for Science and Technology (SRTA-City) in Borg El-Arab (Egypt)

MATS Concentrating Solar Power plant in Borg El Arab (Egypt)

The diffusion of the promoted technology by the project will create new job opportunities in the field of plant design, construction, operation and maintenance. The MATS plant and partnership now represent a platform for capacity building and Egyptian personnel training. It is also a vehicle to attract investments and promote diffusion of solar technologies.



Casaccia Research Centre, UTRINN-STD,
via Anguillarese 301 I-00123


  • Egypt
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • United Kingdom