Celebrating UNESCO's Day of Light: Harnessing solar energy with breakthrough STEM®-CSP Technologies for a global, sustainable and green industry

10 May 2024

Celebrating UNESCO's Day of Light: Harnessing solar energy with breakthrough STEM®-CSP Technologies for a global, sustainable and green industry

The UNESCO International Day of Light is a worldwide initiative that celebrates the central role of light and innovations based on light and its green exploitation to enhance the well-being of our planet. Without solar radiation, no form of life would exist on Earth: light is literally life, and through scientific research and the development of technological solutions—such as our STEM®-CSP/CST technology—it is possible to fully exploit its potential, not only as an essential element for existence itself, but also as a pivotal clean energy source for a global, decarbonized industrial scenario.

STEM®-CSP/CST, the solar thermoelectric system developed by Magaldi Green Energy, is one of the innovative industrial solutions developed within the Italian SOLARGRID program and designed to improve the technical performance of CSP technology and reduce the levelized cost of electricity, thereby promoting an effective and massive deployment and encouraging the creation of new business models aimed at modernizing, making efficient, and decarbonizing energy supply systems to achieve the targets set by European strategic policies.

Magaldi Green Energy solution aims to limit the immense intermittency and fluctuation in energy generation from renewable sources, especially when integrated with long-term TES systems. In fact, predictability and reliability of production and dispatchability are achievable thanks to integration with TES thermal storage, high-cost efficiency, low use of critical raw materials, and the potential use of recyclable materials with low environmental impact, representing the main advantages of CSP technology.

The results obtained from the hybridization of CSP-PV systems and the solar thermoelectric system developed by MAGALDI have been published in the scientific journal "Energies", an open-access and peer-reviewed periodical on topics related to energy technologies and associated physical and chemical processes, published by MDPI Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute.

In the SOLARGRID Project, a theoretical analysis was first conducted to evaluate the performance of a hybrid CSP/PV plant based on Magaldi's innovative Solar Thermo Electric Magaldi (STEM®) technology for distributed heat/electricity generation. Specifically, the operation of an integrated plant that can generate—through PV during the day and through CSP after sunset—was considered, but other hybridization strategies are also technically possible.

Based on the third-generation CSP guidelines and the STEM® technology, Magaldi has identified several development lines necessary to achieve the goals set by the international scientific community for applications in the thermal and solar energy sectors.

Coupling CSP with PV is considered one of the most promising options to ensure schedulable and low-cost electrical/thermal generation. The CSP-PV integration allows for leveraging the advantages of both technologies:

-low generation costs of PV

-schedulable production of CSP

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technology integrated with thermal energy storage helps address many of the challenges of the energy system associated with the integration of renewable energy sources such as:

-the significant intermittency and fluctuation in power generation from RES

-the risk of imbalance between power generation and demand

-sudden changes in transmission line flows, necessitating costly and lengthy upgrades

-the phasing out of conventional generation systems, leading to demands for new solutions and innovations to support grid services.

The research promoted within the Solargrid project enabled the modeling of the individual components of the integrated CSP/PV plant and the definition of a system model to evaluate the hybrid plant's capacity to meet a required load profile with a characteristic hourly curve.

It is evident that the effective integration of the two systems can have synergistic effects: not only can the alternating operation of the CSP and PV systems ensure 24-hour producibility through PV during the day and CSP after sunset, but the effective functional integration of the two systems through electro-thermal dissipation can guarantee greater electricity production, especially in months characterized by good radiation

It is noteworthy that the optimal size of CSP–PV plants in an integrated system can only be identified through an exhaustive technical-economic analysis applied to specific territorial scenarios, which in the future could represent the development of research work in a sector in in which Magaldi has been investing for more than a decade.

Initiatives like the UNESCO International Day of Light provide the perfect framework to emphasize how advanced technologies based on the sustainable utilization of solar radiation can allow us to build a world and an industry centered on our planet well-being.




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