DIT and RED-T take part in €6m pan-European solar farm R&D project

23 Apr 2013

DIT has joined forces with Dublin renewable energy company RED-T to embark on a three-year €6m European research project on solar energy involving 12 companies across Europe. The two organisations will be funded to the tune of €650,000 to provide critical expertise in the areas of battery technology, energy grid integration and commercialisation.

The combined turnover of the 12 organisations involved in PV (photovoltaic) crops is in excess of €3bn.

The two Irish organisations are being funded a total of €650,000 to provide their input from the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The funding to RED-T for the project is €375,000. The funding to DIT is €275,000.

Funded through the European Commission’s Department of Research and Innovation, the project is aimed at improving the performance and viability of solar energy for Europe.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has assisted RED-T’s application process.

Called PV Crops (PhotoVoltaic Cost reduction, Reliability, Operational performance, Prediction and Simulation), the 12-partner pan-European consortium is working together to deliver 19 results, including training, company spin-offs, toolbox solutions, database systems, technical documents, and solar power technology developments.

RED-T provides specialist knowledge in flow battery energy storage. The incorporation of energy storage in PV generation plants will allow further mitigating power fluctuations, allowing shifting the power injection from its generation by the PV modules.

This proposal aims to integrate flow batteries into PV systems. The integration of RED-T’s patented flow batteries in PV systems will contribute to mitigate PV power fluctuations and to help the grid to incorporate more than 30pc of PV generation. It will also allow maximising the benefit from the sale of electricity at peak-demand prices, thereby reducing overall electricity tariffs.

DIT is providing to the group its recognised expertise in solar power generation and its integration into the grid involving researchers from the Dublin Energy Lab (DEL) and the Electrical Power Research Centre (EPRC). Also, with DIT’s Hothouse team commercialising research at five times the average rate of universities in Europe, the institute will head up many of the PV crops commercialisation activities aimed at delivering the 19 outputs the project will work to provide.

The PV crops consortium will initially work on developing hardware and software solutions aimed at refining and enhancing the testing systems at PV plants and BIPV (building-integrated photovoltaics). In tandem, the group will work on toolboxes for prediction of energy production and for managing the resulting power fluctuations.

Diagnosis tools are also to be developed that will uncover performance failures of PV systems. At the end of 48 months, it is planned to be able to deliver tried and tested energy management and storage systems tailored for PV plants and BIPV companies.

Photovoltaic solar cell image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years