The MiCROSOL project inaugurates its first CSP demonstrator in France

November 25, 2013 11:08 AM

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The consortium developing the MiCROSOL project has recently inaugurated the demonstrator of its "energy-access solution to support the development of bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) micro-industries" at the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission’s (CEA) Cadarache Centre in France.

The MiCROSOL project aims to develop a single, modular standard technology for producing electricity, drinking water and heat simultaneously on a continuous operation basis, primarily to benefit micro-industries located in rural areas of countries with high levels of sunshine, especially in Africa. It is based on the principle of cogeneration of electricity and heat, applying a new approach to a technology that is already widespread – Concentrated Solar Power. The solution focuses its constraints on the design of thermal storage that only uses environmentally-friendly products.

For this project, Exosun has designed and built a solar concentrator and receptor for the plant, while Exoès has provided its SHAPE SOLAR engine technology—based on an organic Rankine cycle—to convert the heat to electricity on site. With the addition of Exosun's energy storage solution, the plant can maintain operation around the clock.

The project was launched in November 2011 over a three-year period with a budget of €10.9 million. Led by Schneider Electric, the consortium plans to establish the first pilot site on the African continent in 2014 and to start the commercialisation phase in 2015. The consortium is looking at Kenya as its first country to establish a pilot plant.

The inauguration was attended by Christian Bonnet, Director of the CEA Cadarache Centre; Bruno Lechevin, President of ADEME, the French environment and energy management agency; Gilles Vermot Desroches, Sustainability Seniort Vice-President at Schneider Electric; Frédéric Conchy, Chairman of Exosun; Charles Agueh, Chairman of EcoLabs; and Pradeep Monga, Director of the Energy & Climate Change Branch of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Gilles Vermot Desroches, Senior Vice-President, Sustainability, Schneider Electric, announced: “MiCROSOL is a key project in Schneider Electric’s strategy to develop a comprehensive and integrated energy-access offer for bottom-of-the-pyramid populations. Through active collaboration with innovative young French companies, we have been able to develop a technology that meets the needs of BOP micro-industries, while also creating the conditions for a French entity to export excellence."

"MICROSOL is one of Exosun's major research projects and our collaboration with Exoès on this project has given us an opportunity to demonstrate the viability of the CSP system, which can provide clean electricity and heat 24 hours a day. Amongst our other partners on this project,Schneider Electric, also MICROSOL Program Manager is in charge of the plant's power control," commented Frédéric Conchy, CEO and Founder of Exosun. "With the combined expertise of our teams, we're well suited to help expand the boundaries of renewable energy adoption around the world."

Arnaud Desrentes, President and Founder of Exoès: "Today, there is a need for alternative energy in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels whose high price deprives the poorest populations of regular access to energy. MICROSOL provides these isolated populations with a robust and sustainable energy solution."

MiCROSOL benefits from financial support under ADEME’s (French Environment and Energy Management Agency) Future Investments scheme, in the form of a grant and a reimbursable advance for 5.1 million euros. Selected under ADEME’s Solar 2011 Call for Expressions of Interest, the project and its demonstrator are required to deliver a concrete solution for ADEME’s 2050 vision in its Solar Thermodynamics roadmap for French industrial companies. This project is composed of nine partners including the CEA-INES, Exoès, Exosun, LEME-Paris (a French energy laboratory), LEMTA-Nancy (a research unit of the French University of Nancy), Stiral, TMW and Schneider Electric (MICROSOL Program Manager).

- Zero greenhouse gas emissions

- Reduced deforestation and health problems owing to the clean production of heat and electricity

- The use of easily recyclable steel and aluminum components,

2) Electricity production: composed of an Organic Rankine Cycle engine made by Exoès, this module transforms the energy generated by the first module by converting the temperature difference into electricity. In this way it can produce up to 50 MWh/year of electricity in the right sunshine conditions.

3) Drinking water production: composed of a stand-alone evaporator supplied by TMW, which has no filtration membrane or vacuum pump and uses the plant’s CHP to speed up the water’s natural evaporation and condensation cycle. This module can produce up to two cubic meters a day of purified drinking water from sea water or brine. Other similar modules can be added depending on the desired output.

- solar tracker drive system

- solar inverter and power electronics

- automatic load shedding

- variable speed drive for water pump, programmable logic controller

- human-machine interface

- monitoring and remote control system.


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