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Solar Facilities for the European Research Area (SFERA)

SFERA is an EU-funded research project with the stated aim of increasing collaboration among leading concentrated solar research institutions in Europe. To that end, the project has built five state of the art high flux solar research laboratories across Europe. SFERA is also invested improve communication among European scientists and between European and foreign scientists.

SFERA has an integrate approach to solar technology that ranges from creating standards for testing to actual device investigation to basic science research in the physics of solar material. The focus is primarily on concentrated solar systems.

Working Package 12

This project is focused on improving the quality of testing solar installations. The package aims to provide common guidelines for testing and best practice. This includes solar simulators and virtual concentrated solar power (CSP) facilities that are used for modeling and testing.

Working Package 13

This project focuses on achieving ultra-high concentration in CSP facilities. The goal is to achieve temperatures well above 1000 oC with the use of secondary concentrators. The project is also developing a sunshape measurement and monitor system, which will investigate the angular distribution of solar irradiation in high flux CSP systems.

Working Package 14

This project addresses the accelerate aging that occurs in different components of concentrated solar systems. Fatigue is a major problem in CSP systems, particularly those in cloudy environments. Fatigue refers to the progressive structural damage that occurs as a result of cyclic loading. In the case of CSP, fatigue refers to the heating and cooling cycles that occur with exposure to sunlight. It also refers to non-visible exposure like UV.  This project looks to understand how various materials behave under the extreme conditions in CSP systems so that recommendations can be made regarding materials, procedures, laboratory capability, and quality control testing.

Working Package 15

WP15 is focused on developing methods for testing and evaluating different types of thermal energy storage systems and materials. The current problem in this field is a lack of consistency in testing methodology.
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