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Objectives / concepts

Five thermochemical methods for producing solar hydrogen
Five thermochemical methods for producing solar hydrogen Five thermochemical methods for producing solar hydrogen. Source: PSI
The application in Switzerland and throughout the world of the findings obtained from research into high-temperature solar processes and the use of the various components respond to a genuine need. In Switzerland, it is only in the area of solar thermal power plants that there are few important applications (it makes better economic sense to develop this technology in areas with more sunshine); this is why the emphasis is placed on export technologies in this area (in the same way as for other energy sources, in particular wind turbines).

With regard to solar thermochemistry (only the production of pure materials such as zinc is covered by this programme, not the production of hydrogen), the objective is to find a way to store and transport solar energy. In Switzerland, the main priority of research in this field concerns the production of zinc via the ZnO/Zn thermochemical cycle under the leadership of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI).

In the area of high-temperature solar heat in industrial processes, the aim is to develop systems that permit the integration of solar energy into conventional production processes (combination of concentrated solar energy and fossil fuels within the scope of use of waste heat, or as part of a continuous industrial cycle); the maximum use of solar energy means a reduction of CO2 emissions, as well as lower energy costs.

Solar thermal power plants possess a great deal of potential for the production of electricity in line with future major development. At the level of research and pilot installations a great deal still needs to be done in order to improve the existing technologies (linear parabolic system, linear Fresnel system, tower power plants and dish/Stirling motor system), as well as to optimise the various power plant components (solar reflectors, concentrators, heat exchangers, turbines, control mechanisms, concentration technology, engineering, software, etc.).

Related documents

Federal government energy research concept
Concept on High-temperature solar energy research programme

Further information

Energy research at the Swiss Federal Office of Energy
Organisation and contacts of SFOE energy research
Contact: Stefan Oberholzer
Last update: 03.11.2015

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