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.

Competencies of the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance in the field of Solar Thermal Energy

Concentrating Solar Power CSP - Solar Thermal Power Plant

In sunny regions, solar thermal power plants (Concentrated Solar Power, CSP) supply 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 increase efficiency and further reduce manufacturing costs. The cost-efficient and resource-saving operation of the plants is also subject of our activities.




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.



Automated In-Situ Measurement of Soiling for Site Assessment and Operation of Solar Thermal Power Plants.

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 provides an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly alternative for supplying buildings and industrial processes with heat and cooling. Researchers at Fraunhofer Energy Research are intensively involved in the technical and economic aspects of the associated technologies and produce, among other things, analyses of heating and cooling strategies. Furthermore, solar thermal collectors are further developed and qualified. Our activities also include the evaluation and optimization of solar system, control and integration concepts for promising industries and processes.



Cooling with the Sun

Together with industrial companies, the Offenburg University of Applied Sciences and the Fraunhofer ICT, the demonstrator of a highly efficient air conditioning system for the regenerative, simultaneous generation of cold and heat is being developed.


Heating with the Sun

Fraunhofer researchers examine solar houses, identify potential for optimization and lay the scientific foundation for the house concept.