Solar Thermal Energy

Apart from the photovoltaic power generation, concentrated solar power plants (CSP) are gaining importance, especially in regions with high direct radiation. For this, the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance does not only develop overall concepts but also the necessary components like heat storage technologies and concentrating optics with a focus on Fresnel collectors and absorber tubes.

The Fraunhofer Energy Alliance is researching systems for the thermal exploitation of solar energy in the areas of solar service water heating, space heating, process heat for industrial processes and solar refrigeration. To that end, researchers develop collectors and system components and design complete systems, which are tailored to the respective load profile and the available solar radiation including control units and the integration of cold and heat storages.

Competences »Solar Thermal Energy« | Fraunhofer Energy Alliance

Solar Thermal Power Plants (CSP)

In sunny regions, solar thermal power plants (Concentrated Solar Power, CSP) are already supplying green electricity as needed by using large thermal storage facilities. Especially in combination with low-cost photovoltaic electricity, the storage capacity of CSP in grids with increasing shares of fluctuating renewable energies will continue to gain importance. Together with partners, we are conducting research on materials, components, collectors and systems to further increase efficiency and further reduce manufacturing costs. The cost-efficient and resource-saving operation of the plants is also the subject of current work.




In the HelioGLOW project, components are developed for a solar thermal tower power plant. The overall optimization is supported by air walls and optimized heat carrier.



Eleven European partners from research facilities, industry, universities as well as the Moroccan research institute MASCIR and the Israeli company BrightSource Industries Israel are working together to develop solutions to reduce costs of solar thermal power plants.



The main goal of the Competitive Solar Power Towers (CAPTure) project is to significantly reduce costs of concentrated solar power (CSP), in order to pave the way for its deserved competitiveness on the power market.

Solar Heating and Cooling

Heating accounts for around 57 percent of Germany's final energy demand, a good half of which is space heating, just under 40 percent is process heat and just under 10 percent is hot water. Around 15 percent of Germany's electricity demand is spent on refrigeration processes – mainly in industry. Solar heating and cooling can be used for energy-efficient and environmentally friendly energy supply. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance are concerned with analyses of heating and cooling strategies and the further development and testing of solar collectors.



A+++ to G

The TestLab Solar Thermal Systems at Fraunhofer ISE tests solar thermal components and complete systems, as well as collectors and solar thermal storage systems.  


New Materials

Fraunhofer ISE has successfully coated various components with highly porous metal organic frameworks, which have the largest inner surface area of any material known.