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Still going to school Anton Neuhaeuser developed a strong interest in renewable energies. He undertook projects on the usage of stinging-nettles for material and energetic use, and on solar fruit driers. He also built a working model of a Stirling engine. According to his interests he chose to study Energy and Process Engineering with a focus on renewable energies at the TU Munich. After an internship in China on fuel cells, a term paper on sea water desalination and an internship on biogas engines he decided to write his diploma thesis "Implementation of a simulation model for a solar power-plant with linear Fresnel-collectors and estimation of economics at 1 MW thermal power" at Fraunhofer ISE. During this thesis he began to work on solar thermal power generation for small and medium scale applications. As this topic covers many of his interests and still offers room for improvement he decided to continue working on it. He was successful finding the financial support to build a test facility for solar cogeneration of heat, cold, power and water.
The result of a study carried out by Fraunhofer ISE (MEDIFRES) (www.mss-csp.info) is that solar thermal power plants in the range of 50 kWel to 1 MWel can be economically viable in countries with high irradiation potential. Especially the combined use of solar heat, cold and electricity could enhance the economics. Industrial sites in remote areas today mostly cover there energy demand by diesel generators and fossil burners. Due to the high prices, substituting solar polygeneration systems for fossil fuels could be economically viable in the near future, even without government incentives. The Advantages of small scale applications are: lower investment and therefore easier financing and faster market development. Also small and medium sized enterprises, not having the resources to build large power plants, could implement such systems. Thus smaller solar thermal power plants could lead to a significant increase of solar usage in energy production.
The key components (e.g. middle and high temperature collectors, storages, small expansion machines and absorption chillers) for solar polygeneration are at different levels of development. A demonstration of a solar combined heat, cold and power system was not realized yet. Components that would be suitable for solar polygeneration are not yet tested or optimized for the dynamic behaviour of solar systems.
In order to test components for solar polygeneration, a test facility is being erected at the moment, as a part of the dissertation, at Fraunhofer ISE. It will be used for measuring the behaviour and advancing components. The data derived will be used to validate and enhance a dynamic simulation tool. This tool will be used to develop a control scheme for the whole polygeration system to ensure covering the demand for electricity heat and/or cold at optimum efficiency.
The simulation tool implemented during the MEDIFRES project allows calculating the financial savings in comparison to the usage of fossil fuel. The calculations are based on hourly values for solar irradiation. Economic figures like the Levelized Electricity Costs (LES) can be calculated if component costs are available. This tool will help to design and optimize solar polygeneration systems. It will be improved by using the measurement results.
In the long run, suitable demonstration projects will be identified to show the feasibility and the prospects of solar polygeneration.