The International Energy Agency's Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (IEA SHC) has launched a four-year research project aimed at the growing market for solar heat in industrial processes.
Researchers at IEA SHC and SolarPACES will work on hardware and software in order to make solar a more attractive option for industrial applications.
‘Industrial use of solar heat is clearly on the rise,’ says Christoph Brunner, leader of the new project. ‘Until a few years ago, it seemed that this topic was mostly driven by academics, but with ever-increasing energy prices industrial users of heat have newly discovered solar energy as an attractive option.’
Last year, the group's researchers analyzed the factors that are holding back industrial companies from using solar energy for their thermal energy demand. They found that work remains to be done in the following areas:
– improving existing collector designs and extending test standards to allow for quality assurance of these important components;
– reviewing and improving the way solar thermal is integrated into industrial heating systems; and
– developing monitoring tools and design guidelines supporting those who plan and install solar installations for industrial process heat.
The project will run until the end of 2015.