How to Integrate Solar Heat into Industrial Processes

An integration concept for direct solar steam generation from the IEA Guideline. (Graphic: IEA SHC)
An integration concept for direct solar steam generation from the IEA Guideline. (Graphic: IEA SHC)

Solar process heat is an upcoming new business field for the solar thermal industry. The IEA SHC Programme and the IEA SolarPACES Programme have now developed guidelines that describe in detail how to incorporate solar heat into industrial processes.  

Solar Heat for Industrial Processes (SHIP) is a promising application to reduce CO2-emissions in quite a lot of industries like food, wine and beverages, transport equipment, machinery, textiles, pulp and paper. The share of heat demand at low and medium temperatures of below 250 °C is around 60 %. Tapping into this potential would provide a significant solar contribution to industrial energy requirements.

The first step to integrate solar thermal systems into industrial processes is to identify the most technically and economically suitable integration point and the most suitable integration concept. Because industrial heat supply and distribution is usually very complex, this is not a trivial task and often dissuades the industry from using Solar Heat despite its advantages over other fuel sources.

To help with this obstacle the IEA SHC has now developed a sector-independent approach outlined in “Solar Process Heat for Production and Advanced Applications: Integration Guideline”.

This guideline describes in detail how to incorporate solar heat into industrial processes. It includes schematics and descriptions for the different hydraulic modules of a solar thermal process heat system: the primary solar collector circuit, the secondary solar circuit to load the storage, the storage system, the process distribution system and the production process itself. The guidelines depict both generalized and common examples of hydraulic schemes and include descriptions of pressurized and non-pressurized storage systems.

This procedure includes the necessary steps to identify suitable integration points and integration concepts. Planners, energy consultants and process engineers can use it to integrate solar thermal systems into industrial processes, while others will find value in the Integration Guideline as a training tool for planners, energy managers and consultants.

Jan Gesthuizen / IEA


Another good resource of IEA SHC Task 49 is the "Solar Heat Integration in Industrial Processes" online database of SHIP plants (155 plants with a total solar thermal capacity of 101 MWth), which includes information on the integration points in the production processes,

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