ASTERIx-CAESar project focuses on the development of a novel high-efficiency solar thermal power plant concept with an integrated electricity storage solution. The project combines air-based central receiver Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) to maximize conversion efficiency and power grid energy management, enabling a new operation strategy and business model.

The hybrid concept initiates a futuristic era with adaptive renewable power plants, producing both electrical and thermal energy, including process heat supply and reverse osmosis desalination. As cheap off-peak electricity is used to provide the air compression work of the topping Brayton cycle, the overall peak solar-to-electric energy conversion efficiency of the proposed power plant may reach up to 40% efficiency, which doubles the peak efficiency with respect to state-of-the-art CSP technology.  

The main project developments will cover: (i) an advanced high-efficiency solar receiver, (ii) optical sensors and AI-based solar flux control, (iii) optimized CAES with heat exchangers and compressor/expander detailed designs and (iv) innovative integration of desalination. The proposed technology is set forth by an interdisciplinary partnership spanning the entire CSP value chain. Targeting a TRL of 6-7, the ASTERIx-CAESar concept will be validated with a demonstration scale prototype of 480 kWth. 

ASTERIx-CAESar: Air-based Solar Thermal Electricity for Efficient Renewable Energy Integration & Compressed Air Energy Storage