OPTS Project (Optimization of a Thermal energy Storage system with integrated Steam Generator)

On the 18th of January, the kick off meeting of the OPTS project (Optimization of a Thermal energy Storage system with integrated Steam Generator), funded by the 7th Framework Programme, took place in Brussels.

OPTS aims at developing a new Thermal Energy Storage (TES) system based on single tank configuration using stratifying Molten Salts (MS, Sodium/Potassium Nitrates 60/40 w/w) as heat storage medium at 550°C maximum temperature, integrated with a Steam Generator (SG), to provide efficient, reliable and economic energy storage for the next generation of trough and tower plants.

The three-year experimental program will be focused to the full development of the integrated system (TES-SG) up to demonstration level. The SG, with natural recirculation of the MS, can be either positioned directly into the tank (Pool-type) or as an external shell-and-tube once-through SG (Loop-type) with piping system and pump.

Since the objective is to develop a new TES-SG concept for large-scale CSP plants, i.e. 125MWth/50 MWe, the experimental concept has to be verified in a relevant scale (at least 12.5 MWth/5MWe ), maintaining the same main thermo-fluid-dynamic parameters as the full scale system. This test section will be designed, built, and tested. Basic experimental, modeling and engineering activities will be carried out to support the design and optimization of the proposed technology. These activities include assessment of MS heat transport properties under relevant representative conditions for the TES-SG system.

Moreover, design, optimization and cost-benefit assessment for a full-scale TES-SG system (125 MWth/50MWe) will be done in the framework of the OPTS project coupled with a CSP (tower or trough) plant.

The project, which has an EC financial contribution of ca 8.650.000 euros, is coordinated by ENEA (Agenzia Nazionale per le Nuove Tecnologie, l’Energia e lo Sviluppo Economico Sostenibile) and involves other 10 partners, respectively from France, Germany, Israel, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal. Research partners are ENEA, CEA, CNRS, Fraunhofer ISE, Weizmann Institute, CREF-CyI, CIEMAT and LNEG, while the industrial partners are ACS-COBRA, TECNIMONT KT e ANSALDO Nucleare.

The OPTS project is the result of a coordination activity in the field of research that partners are carrying out in the Joint Programme on Concentrated Solar Power of the EERA- European Energy Research Alliance (www.eera-set.eu).The EERA is one of the initiatives of the SET-Plan (Strategic Energy Technology Plan), an instrument of the European Commission aimed at accelerating the development and deployment of cost-effective low carbon technologies for the achievement of the “202020” objectives.