Power experts have their day in the sun at opening of solar plant in Egypt

Apr 26, 2018

The €22 million project aims to transform a semi-desert region and produce a steady supply of electricity and water to local industrial facilities and the 1,000 people that live in the area near Alexandria.

The solar power plant is a combination of advanced solar energy-producing technologies, integrated with a desalinated water process and a cooling unit facility, making it possible to generate electricity and to co-generate fresh water in a desert region.

Cranfield University has the only UK research team in this field dedicated to research on concentrating solar power. The team devised new methods of measurement to ensure the solar collectors, which are mirrors, fulfilled the specification required at the site. 

The project has been funded by the European Union Framework 7 programme and the City for Scientific Research and Technological Applications.

Dr Chris Sansom, Cranfield associate professor in concentrated solar power, said: “This is one of only a few concentrated solar power plants in the world.

"We are delighted to have been part of the collaboration between research institutes and businesses from both Egypt and the European Union.

"The testing and validation undertaken by our team has ensured the mirrors are the ideal shape, providing near perfect reflectance and durability in this hot and dusty environment.”

CSP mirrors need to be a parabolic shape and have a uniformly high level of reflectance to reach peak efficiency.

The research ensured the mirrors which ‘catch’ the sunlight reflect it into the absorbing collection tubes, which transport the heat to the power block where it is converted into electricity in a steam turbine and generator.                                           

To assess the solar collecting mirrors, the Cranfield team developed a photogrammetry technique that uses multiple photographs of the surface of the mirror taken at different angles, which is then analysed in 3D, to measure the shape of the mirrors.

The Cranfield team also designed the desalination unit and the cooling system which are integrated into the plant.    

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