Concentrating Solar Thermal Energy 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 our modern societies due to their unique features:
1) Solar energy offers the highest renewable energy potential to our planet;
2) STE can provide dispatchable power in a technically and economically viable way, by means of thermal energy storage and/or hybridization, e.g. with biomass.
However, significant research efforts are needed to achieve this goal. This Integrated Research Programme (IRP) engages all major European research institutes, with relevant and recognized activities on STE and related technologies, in an integrated research structure to successfully accomplish the following general objectives:
a) Convert the consortium into a reference institution for concentrating solar energy research in Europe, creating a new entity with effective governance structure;
b) Enhance the cooperation between EU research institutions participating in the IRP to create EU added value;
c) Synchronize the different national research programs to avoid duplication and to achieve better and faster results;
d) Accelerate the transfer of knowledge to industry in order to maintain and strengthen the existing European industrial leadership in STE;
e) 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;
f) Establish the European reference association for promoting and coordinating international cooperation in concentrating solar energy research.
To that end, this IRP promotes Coordination and Support Actions (CSA) and, in parallel, performs Coordinated Projects (CP) covering the full spectrum of current concentrating solar energy research topics, selected to provide the highest EU added value and filling the gaps among national programs.