SOLPART interviews: Abengoa, an industrial company at the service of clean energies
Meet SOLPART partner Abengoa (Spain) in our interview series in video: Anton Lopez, R&D Manager, answers 8 questions about the role of the company in the project, challenges and expectations.
Question: Tell us a bit about yourself…
Answer: My name is Anton Lopez and I work at Abengoa in research and development engineering. Abengoa is an international company that applies technologies, innovative solutions for the sustainable development in the energy, water and infrastructure sector. I specialized myself in the solar industry in which Abengoa is a reference worldwide.
Describe your role in the SOLPART project.
The SOLPART project is a research project and in Abengoa, as an industrial company, we provide a different point of view, more focused on the final user. We focus principally on the scale-up and the availability of their proposed solutions.
Why did you decide to take part in this project?
Abengoa is really aware of climate change and we support the sustainable energy sector. In that context, Abengoa has developed a line of business for industrial heating using solar energy. The SOLPART project fits perfectly into that frame and also, we saw a lot of potential in this project when it was first presented to us.
What are the most challenging aspects of your role?
To do the scale-up, no doubt about that. There are a lot of things that could work in a pilot plant or the laboratory but when you try to implement them in a fully industrial environment, they won’t work. So, advancing the TRL (i.e. Technology Readiness Level) is a really difficult task that should be addressed specifically.
How do you overcome these challenges?
Specifically, with the experience we have with other projects. Each project is different but with the experience we got from different situations we can apport a lot here. For example, for the salt storage systems we start with a pilot plant from 1 tone with working in a university, then we move up to 420 tones in our research and development facilities and we finish with the biggest plant, a biggest storage system in a plant that is Solana with 128 thousand tons of salts.
What success has been achieved within your task?
In my task, we identified the main contributors to possible problems in the scale-up that is the components that won’t scale-up properly and the ones that need more attention. We also develop a specific solar field just for this project.
What should be the next step after the end of the project?
At the end of this project, we will have a pilot plant working here in these installations (i.e. the PROMES-CNRS solar furnace). The next step will be a demonstration plant that is a lot of an effort involved there. Maybe it looks like a small step but it’s a very big one that’s a lot of work is needed, specifically, in this sector to minimize the risks.
Some last comments to conclude?
We look forward to keeping working with the consortium members. We think we have achieved a success here and we are positive about the results of this technology, we look forward to it.