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A new atmospheric attenuation sensor among the new developments showcasted by CENER at SolarPACES 2018

Attenuation sensor developed by CENER in collaboration with the University of Zaragoza

  • A new system for heliostat optical quality characterization, the recently upgraded PTC Receivers Testing Laboratory and other advances will also be presented at the conference.
  • CENER and its technological partner for SMARTCSP technologies, the technological center IK4-TEKNIKER, sponsor the conference and will have a booth at the exhibition.

Sarriguren (Navarra), 2nd October de 2018.- Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) experts from CENER (National Renewable Energy Centre of Spain) participated in the SolarPACES 2018 Conference, celebrated from October 2 to October 5 in Casablanca (Morocco). The new developments for the CSP industry as well as the latest advances in R&D projects are the main focus of CENER’s experts during this edition of the conference.

A new atmospheric attenuation sensor, a new system for heliostat optical quality characterization and the recently upgraded PTC Receivers Testing Laboratory are among the new developments showcased by CENER at SolarPACES 2018.

CENER researchers, in collaboration with the University of Zaragoza, have developed a new atmospheric attenuation sensor based on the spectral measurement of the attenuation over the complete solar spectrum. Thanks to this, the new device provides better accuracy than any existing solution, with uncertainty below 1%. The developed device uses self-calibrated, high stability, telescopic sensors allowing for the on-line, high frequency record of the atmospheric attenuation beyond 1,500 m. The system consists of two such sensors located at two different distances from a source of sun light. The sensors scan the light spectrum and calculate the difference, providing a precise estimate of the atmospheric attenuation in each wavelength. Besides, this procedure allows for the identification of causes for the attenuation and thus for building of new knowledge of this phenomenon, not only improving the solar resource assessment needed for improved site selection but also enabling forecasting of the atmospheric attenuation. This development is protected under P201830758.

A solution for the accurate characterization of heliostats in commercial power plants developed by CENER, also in collaboration with the University of Zaragoza, is showcased at the conference. The system is based on an array of opto-electronic sensors with automatic gain adjustment which scans the heliostat spot using the sun’s movement to sweep the image through the sensors and thus removing tracking error from the measurement. Due to its capacity for measuring very low light intensity and virtually any spot size, this new system provides large accuracy for distant or small heliostats, solving one of the current technological challenges of heliostat characterization. A heliostat characterization normally takes a few minutes  although parallel characterization in order to increase the speed in complete commercial solar fields is also possible. This system is protected under P201830756.

CENER participates in SolarPACES 2018 with more than 10 scientific contributions, including oral presentations, papers and posters. These contributions include not only the previously mentioned developments but also the latest advances in several H2020 projects such as MOSAIC and CAPTURE related to the development of new CSP plant concepts.

Furthermore, CENER and its technological partner for SMARTCSP technologies, the technological center IK4-TEKNIKER, sponsor the conference and have a booth at the exhibition for showcasing the latest developments of the innovative low-cost EASY heliostat and the SHORT system for automatic heliostat calibration. With the focus on finding the best commercial partners for placing these products into the market.


The National Renewable Energy Centre of Spain (CENER) develops applied research in renewable energies, and provides technological support to companies and energy institutions in six areas: wind, solar thermal and photovoltaic solar energy, biomass, smart and efficient buildings and districts, and grid integration of energy. CENER is a technology centre with worldwide recognised prestige, activity and experience. More info:

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