Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) power is a very promising renewable energy resource. So far, the best known application is electricity generation in bulk thermodynamic cycles, but other applications have also been demonstrated, such as production of hydrogen and solar fuels, water treatment and research in advanced materials. Europe is a leader in research and development of this CST technology. In line with this development, the European Union is promoting the opening of key Research Infrastructures (RIs) in solar concentrating systems (solar concentrators and relating research infrastructures) for both academia and industries for carrying out energy and materials research as well as research in other fields using the extreme temperature conditions in solar concentrators.

In this context the ‘Solar Facilities for the European Research Area Third Phase (SFERA-III)’ Project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (H2020-INFRAIA-2018-1), intends to engage all major European advanced solar laboratories, with relevant and recognized activities in the Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) technology field, into an integrated structure that could successfully provide access to high-quality RIs and services to European and non-European researchers from academy and industry to conduct first-class experimental research focusing on CST and CST-related activities but also other high temperature and high flux applications for research and industry, free of charge to Users. Furthermore, SFERA-III integrates two research infrastructures located in two neighbouring countries, i.e. Turkey and Switzerland, which complement the services offered by the European RIs.

SFERA-III is providing access to fifteen (15) state-of-the-art CST RIs, unique in the world, and a total of forty-seven (47) installations. They allow academic and industrial Users to conduct excellent research but also qualify commercial prototypes in the fields such as but not limited to:

  • Solar thermal electricity generation (tests from research on components and methods to full prototypes systems): thermodynamic cycles such as Brayton and Stirling cycles, receivers and their coatings, thermal storage, concentrating optics and mirrors, control algorithms and solar resource evaluation, heliostats and linear collectors, high concentration PV cells, etc.
  • Solar fuels production: H2, Syngas, liquid and gas hydrocabons, etc.
  • Cycles for chemical storage of solar energy for short and long duration: ZnO, CeO, Iron, etc.
  • Solar water treatment: desalination, disinfection and decontamination.
  • Solar heating and cooling of buildings to improve the energy efficiency in buildings.
  • Modelling and controlling of concentrating solar technologies for power plants and for industrial processes
  • High value material synthesis and/or coatings deposits (experimental or test of processes): nanomaterials like C or ZnO nanotubes, new ceramics or metals, foams, catalytic layers, etc.
  • High-flux photochemistry and photo-physics.
  • Characterization of materials behaviour and properties under extreme conditions such as for solar, space or nuclear fields: thermal shields, high temperature materials and parts, etc.
  • Solar pumping of LASER for industrial and space applications.

Please be aware that since the SFERA III project has just been launched in January 2019, this website is just a temporary website for the purpose of the Transnational Access call.
The future final website will be ready beginning of April.