Weekly Intelligence Brief: February 16 - 23

This week’s CSP Today news brief includes the following companies and organizations: The Cyprus Institute (CyI); Nevada Bureau of Land Management, SolarReserve, NV Energy; Desertec, the WEF; Aora Solar, the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy and the Ethiopian Energy Authority.

Cyprus Institute secures EUR 2.5 million EU grant for research in the CSP realm

The Cyprus Institute (CyI) has been awarded a European Research Area (ERA) Chair grant of EUR 2.5 million for research in the CSP field.

Following a competitive process, the CyI -an education institution focused on scientific and technological research- secured one of the 13 grants awarded. The selection committee assessed 88 proposals submitted from 15 countries.

The ERA Chairs is part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research funding programme and is aimed to support research organisations in countries with low research and development investment. It also intends to attract high quality scientists from across the European Union to contribute to the development of scientific research in less-advantaged countries of the region.

The funds will be used in the development of CSP technologies for electricity production, desalination, air conditioning and heating, either in isolation or in co-generation modalities. It will also further the Cyl’s research into thermal energy storage and the design of high efficiency solar receivers with integrated storage capabilities.

The research will be carried out at the Cyl’s CSP and desalination facility, located in Pentakomo, in the south coast of Cyprus.

Mitigation strategies carried out after a test at Crescent Dunes resulted in 130 birds killed

According to a report issued by the digital magazine kect.org, a test conducted at the Crescent Dunes CSP project, in Nevada, resulted in 130 dead birds.

As stated by Rudy Evenson, deputy chief of communications for the Nevada Bureau of Land Management, “biologists observed 130 birds entering an area of concentrated solar energy and catching fire”. The test was carried out on 14 January 2015.

Evenson suggested that “the birds may have been attracted by a glow the concentrated solar energy created above the project's sole tower.”

Crescent Dunes is a 110 MW solar tower project, developed by a consortium led by SolarReserve, and is set to begin commercial operation in March. It will supply energy to NV Energy, a utility that serves most of Nevada, under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

According to Evenson, “workers testing the plant moved approximately a third of the project's ten thousand mirrors to focus sunlight on a point 1,200 feet above the ground, approximately twice the height of the power tower at Crescent Dunes.”

Another test was conducted the following day, on 15 January 2015, but this time fewer mirrors were aimed at the focal point above the tower, which according to Evenson, ended the injuries to birds.

SolarReserve’s CEO, Kevin Smith, confirmed to the local media that “under 150 avian safety issues” were reported at the plant that week and, as a result, the company stopped testing until further mitigation procedures were implemented. These included repositioning the plant's mirrors to reduce the intensity of the solar flux field.

DESERTEC Sahara solar project “prioritized” by the APV

Desertec Sahara, a 100 GW solar generation and transmission project, was listed as one of the 13 energy projects to be “prioritized for accelerated implementation” by the African Power Vision (APV). The APV is an initiative launched by ministers of power and finance across the region, to develop urgent infrastructure projects in the continent.

The initiative began at last year’s World Economic Forum, in Davos, and “builds on the objectives of the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA)”. The PIDA has 51 projects across four sectors: energy, transport, trans-boundary water, and information and communications technology.

The APV, for its part, focuses on energy projects through various technologies, including wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, or gas. They include the Desertec Sahara Solar Project; three hydropower projects, one wind project and one geothermal project.

Aora’s Spain receives Ethiopian delegation to promote collaboration in the CSP field

A delegation of officials from the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, the Ethiopian Energy Authority and academics from Ethiopian universities visited the Aora Solar’s site at the Almería Solar Platform, in Spain, to learn more about the CSP technology and Aora’s Tulip.

The visit, which lasted three days, follows the announcement of a partnership between AORA Solar and the Ethiopian Government to pilot two AORA solar-hybrid systems at the Addis Ababa Science and Technology University and Adama Science and Technology University.

The company had signed a similar agreement with the Arizona State University, where the installation of a Tulip is now underway.