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SolarPACES member countries

 European Union
 South Africa
 United Arab Emirates
 United States

SolarPACES (Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems) is an international cooperative network bringing together teams of national experts from around the world to focus on the development and marketing of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems (also known as solar thermal power systems). It is one of a number of collaborative programs, called Implementing Agreements, managed under the umbrella of the International Energy Agency to help find solutions to worldwide energy problems. SolarPACES was founded in 1977.


The SolarPACES Program is an IEA collaborative program. As such, it has a structure similar to the more than 60 programs currently operating through the IEA. Each of them reflect the need to efficiently coordinate between international organisations and bodies.

Programs are carried out under the framework of an Implementing Agreement, signed by contracting parties to the agreement - these include government agencies and government-designated entities of the countries involved. Implementing Agreements offer the framework for collaborative research projects. Benefits include pooled resources and shared costs, harmonisation of standards and hedging of technical risks.

Within SolarPACES, individual research, development and demonstration projects are organised within related Tasks. There are six tasks currently being undertaken by the SolarPACES Program:

Task I: Solar Thermal Electric Systems

Task I addresses the design, testing, demonstration, evaluation, and application of concentrating solar power systems, also known as solar thermal electric systems. This includes parabolic troughs, linear Fresnel collectors, power towers and dish/engine systems. Through technology development and market barrier removal, the focus of SolarPACES Task I is enabling the entry of CSP systems into the commercial market place. The component development and research efforts of Task III logically feed Task I as new components become parts of new systems. In return, the results of this Task I provide direction to Task III on new component needs.

Task II: Solar Chemistry Research

The primary objective of Task II – Solar Chemistry R&D – is to develop and optimize solar-driven thermochemical processes and to demonstrate their technical and economic feasibility at an industrial scale:

1. Production of energy carriers: conversion of solar energy into chemical fuels that can be stored longterm and transported long-range. During this term, special focus is on solar thermal production of hydrogen and syngas.

2. Processing of chemical commodities: use of solar energy for processing energy-intensive, high-temperature materials.

3. Detoxification and recycling of waste materials: use of solar energy for detoxification and recycling of hazardous waste and of secondary raw materials.

Task III: Solar Technology and Advanced Applications

The objectives of this task deal with the advancement of technical and economic viability of emerging solar thermal technologies and their validation with suitable tools by proper theoretical analyses and simulation codes as well as by experiments in special arrangements and adapted facilities. For this purpose, procedures and techniques are defined for the design, evaluation and use of the components and subsystems to optimize concentration, reception, transfer, storage and application of solar thermal energy. In essence, the goals are to investigate innovative multi-discipline advances needed for the further development of concentrating solar thermal systems. This also concerns, among others, process heat applications, the utilization of solar concentration for the development of improved materials, and the introduction of hybrid solar/fossil power plant concepts.

Task III is an ongoing R&D-oriented effort with clearly defined technical objectives, time schedule and expected results. Activities are cost-shared, task-shared (either through SolarPACES or among SolarPACES participants), and/or information-shared. Cost-sharing and task-sharing activities involve cooperative efforts of two or more participants where either costs of activities or responsibilities for activities, respectively, are mutually agreed upon and shared by the Participants. Information sharing is used for the exchange and discussion of results of projects carried out independently by Participants, but of interest to all.

Task IV: SHIP - Solar Heat for Industrial Processes

Solar Heat Integration in Industrial Processes is a collaborative project of the IEA’s Solar Heating and Cooling, Task 49, and SolarPACES Program. The purpose of the project is to provide the knowledge and technology necessary to foster installation of solar thermal plants for industrial process heat. To do this, studies on the technology’s potential are conducted in the participating countries, medium temperature collectors were developed for the production of process heat up to temperature levels of 250°C, and solutions to the problems involved in integrating solar heat into industrial processes were sought. In addition, demonstration projects were carried out in cooperation with the solar industry.

Task V: Solar Resource Assessment and Forecasting

“Solar Resource Assessment and Forecasting” is an IEA Task under the Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC) Programme Implementing Agreement. There the Task is counted as Task-46. The IEA SolarPACES ExCo also guides the Task, where it is called Task V. It further maintains collaboration with the IEA PVPS (Photovoltaic Power Systems) Implementing Agreement.

The Task is a follow up of the earlier SHC-Task-36 named “Solar Resource Knowledge Management”. The title change reflects the changing priorities. The task now focuses primarily on the two most important topics in the field of solar radiation for solar energy applications: For financing the bigger and bigger projects sound solar resource assessments are more and more important. And for operation of the many MW installed power forecasting of solar radiation is receiving high attention from plant and grid operators. In SolarPACES it remains as Task V, but with a new title. The scope of work of the task addresses several more solar resource topics even beyond solar forecasting and resource assessment. But many are related to the main topics. It covers satellite-derived solar resource products, ground-based solar measurements also covering topics not picked up in Task 36 like measuring circumsolar radiation. The Task equally supports solar thermal heating and cooling, photovoltaics and concentrating solar power applications. However, for best serving the objectives of SolarPACES this report focuses on direct solar radiation, which can be concentrated. The four objectives of this Task are:

• Evaluate solar resource variability that impacts large penetrations of solar technologies

• Develop standardized and integrating procedures for data bankability

• Improve procedures for short-term solar resource forecasting

• Advance solar resource modelling procedures based on physical principles

Achieving these objectives would reduce the cost of planning and deploying solar energy systems, improve efficiency of solar energy systems through more accurate and complete solar resource information, and increase the value of the solar energy produced by solar technologies.

Task VI: Solar Energy and Water Processes and Applications

Task VI was created to provide the solar energy industry, the water sector and electricity sectors, governments, renewable energy organizations and related institutions in general with the most suitable and accurate information on the technical possibilities for effectively applying solar radiation to water processes, replacing the use of conventional energies. The need for development of this specific area of solar energy arises from the serious water problems expected in many areas of the world during the coming decades. With the added prospects of increasing energy costs, it makes good sense to seriously consider the use of solar energy to solve or palliate water problems. Specific technological development will be required for this.

The scope of work covers all solar radiation technologies supplying either thermal or photon primary energy for water treatment. Processes and applications included in the scope of the Task are the following:

• Brackish and seawater desalination: development of technical procedures and methodologies for removing or reducing the salt content from water using solar energy as primary energy source.

• Solar power and water co-generation plants: effective integration of desalination technologies into solar power plants.

• Water detoxification: Removal of organic compounds, heavy metals and/or hazardous substances in general from water.

• Water disinfection: Control and/or elimination of pathogenic populations from water for human or animal consumption or irrigation.

The purpose of this Task is to improve the conditions for solar water treatment market introduction and solve water problems at locations with abundant solar energy resources, while contributing to reduced fossil-fuel consumption. The main specific focus of the activities and initiatives addressed is to demonstrate the potential of solar energy for such water applications.

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