Hundreds of downstream engineering and manufacturing jobs in the Tullamore area could be on stream as early as 2015 arising from a project developed by Tullamore based RR Projects and recently by Minister of State for Public Service Reform, Brian Hayes, TD.
RR Projects has signed a contract with Australian based Vast Solar Pty Ltd and Skoda-Doosan from the Czech Republic to commercialise a new cooling system for power stations. The product has been under development in conjunction with University of Limerick since 2010, when it achieved first place among over 60 European-wide proposals under the EU’s Seventh Framework (FP7) Programme. It received over €4million in EU funding and will be tested commercially in New South Wales during 2014.
Dr Ronan Grimes, MACCSol’s technical coordinator at the Stokes Institute in University of Limerick, said that, based on the most up-to-date figures, the international market for air-cooled condensers is estimated at €2billion annually.
“The experimentation which we have conducted has allowed us to develop fan speed control algorithms on MACCSol which we have shown can lead to increases of one to two per cent in power plant efficiency compared to conventional air-cooled condenser technology,” he said.
While the MACCSol is specifically designed for solar energy regions, it will also enhance the performance of coal, gas and fossil fuel steam plants where the condenser must be aircooled.
The commercial opportunities will be developed through a high-tech spin out, employing engineers to tailor the design of the MACC to individual power plants. The condensers will then be assembled in Ireland and exported to the customer’s power plant.
The project has also been strongly supported by Enterprise Ireland. Tom Kelly Head of Manufacturing Division, Enterprise Ireland said “Enterprise Ireland has worked with RR Projects over the last five years to help them to expand their business internationally. This recent announcement is particularly satisfying, highlighting as it does the benefits that accrue to Irish companies participating in projects funded under the EU’s Framework Programmes. The new Horizon 2020 programme is about to be launched and we would be very keen to see more companies follow RR’s example and take advantage of funding available to support their efforts in acquiring new technologies that provide a platform for long-term sustainable growth”.
The Modular Air Cooled Condenser (MACCSol) for enhanced Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) generation, was co-ordinated with the University of Limerick. It is also supported by the Spanish solar power operator, Torresol Energy (Spain); University of Perugia (Italy), University of Erlangen (Germany), the Electricity Authority of Cyprus an Portlaoise based AuBren Ltd.
RR Projects CEO, Nigel Reams, says that the project “complements the EU’s commitment to generating 20% of its electricity from renewable sources. It is particularly aimed at solar energy production in the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa.
“In regions where these plants are most likely to be deployed, water scarcity prohibits the use of water in cooling the condensers. MACCSol eliminates the need to use water, by using solar energy rather than a fossil fuel to generate steam.
The MACCSol technology also responds to changes in ambient conditions to maximise power plant efficiency and reduce manufacture and installation costs.