The project STAGE-STE (“Scientific and Technological Alliance for Guaranteeing the European Excellence in Concentrating Solar Thermal Energy”, www.stage-ste.eu) is one of the last projects financed through the EU 7th Framework Programme. It started on January 2014 and will last until the end of 2017. The main subject is concentrating solar energy that encompasses Solar Thermal Electricity (STE), Solar Fuels, Solar Process Heat and Solar Desalination, that are called to play a major role in attaining energy sustainability in modern societies.

INESC-ID was invited to become a member of the consortium through the research group on Control of Dynamic Systems (integrated in the INESC-ID research line on Energy) in the sequence of its participation in EERA (“European Energy Research Alliance”), and because of its internationally recognized scientific expertise in the field of control applied to concentrated solar power.

Objectives. Three major project objectives are to convert the consortium into a reference institution for concentrating solar energy research in Europe, to enhance the cooperation between the participating EU research institutions in order to create EU added value, and to expand joint activities among research centres by offering researchers and industry a comprehensive portfolio of research capabilities, bringing added value to innovation and industry-driven technology in the area of concentrated solar power.

Research. The project is divided in 12 major Tasks. The first 6 tasks are concerned with the development of links among partners and coordination, and the last 6 are concerned with technical research. INESC-ID participates in task 4 (Capacity building and training activities), where it will be involved in the development of a reference European course for STE, in task 5 (Relationship with industry and transfer of knowledge activities), where it cooperates with the other Portuguese partners in order to integrate Portuguese industries and governmental agencies in a joint framework for active collaboration and dissemination activities, and in task 12 (Point focusing STE technologies) where, in cooperation with partners from Spain and Cyprus, it is playing a significant role in the development of the control strategy and algorithms for flow stability and heat transfer in solar power towers.

The participation in this project opens new possibilities for INESC-ID in the area of Solar Thermal Energy. Researchers from INESC-ID were already internationally recognized due to their work on this area, in particular in the application of Control methodologies to parabolic trough solar fields (a book on this subject, authored by INESC-ID researchers, was published by Springer in 2014) and to solar furnaces. The participation in STAGE-STE allows the acquisition of knowledge in relation to control of solar power towers, a topic with increasing industrial interest. Furthermore, the participation in the consortium promotes the relationship of INESC-ID with important players in Portugal and in Europe.

Consortium.The consortium includes 40 partners that comprise the major research institutes in Europe as well as many private European industries that have an activity related to solar power. In addition, there are several entities from non-European countries that play the role of observers. The Portuguese participants are LNEG, Universidade de Évora, IST-ID, and INESC-ID.