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The LEIA project, launched earlier this year, aims to contribute to the market deployment of innovative, reliable, and intelligent concentrating solar power (CSP) plants. Recently, the project held its inaugural working meeting at the Plataforma Solar de Almería, with representatives from all partner organizations in attendance.

CENER, alongside six other technological partners, including CIEMAT-PSA (general coordinator), and Acciona (project’s technical coordinator), from Spain, as well as Tewer Engineering, CSP Services, DLR, and Siemens Energy from Germany, participates in the LEIA project. By bringing together prominent renewable energy technology developers, research centers, and end-users, LEIA aims to facilitate global replication while promoting and strengthening the European Union’s technological leadership in the renewable energy industry.

With a budget exceeding €2.6 million, the project will span 36 months, concluding at the end of 2025. Its primary objective is to propose new control, operation, and maintenance (O&M) solutions for solar thermal tower technology. Leveraging molten salt-based storage systems, these advancements position concentrating solar power as one of the most promising manageable renewable energy solutions available.

To achieve this objective, renowned companies and research centers in the sector have joined forces to validate and evaluate their developments and technological solutions in real operating environments for future commercial applications. These innovations encompass smart heliostat field control solutions for automation, calibration, and enhancement; smart solar receiver control solutions for temperature measurement, emittance, and solar irradiance distribution; as well as solar field operation and maintenance control strategies, such as automated dirt inspection and a smart energy management system.

The validation and demonstration of these cutting-edge technologies will take place in three locations in Spain in the Plataforma Solar de Almería,  and in CENER’s heliostat test infrastructure located in Tudela, (Navarre-Spain) , and in Chile, in Cerro Dominador, the first solar thermal power plant in Latin America.


In the LEIA project, CENER leads the second work package, focused on developing and demonstrating state-of-the-art solutions and innovations pertaining to heliostat calibration and characterization. These aspects are crucial for accurately measuring and operating the solar field, ensuring optimal performance and controlling the solar flux reaching the receiver. Besides leading the package, CENER aims to advance the pre-commercial maturity level (TRL 8) of its innovative HELIOSCHAR+ heliostat characterization solution. This patented solution, previously developed and validated in prototype phase by CENER, employs an optoelectronic device comprising an array of variable gain detectors and cameras distributed along a vertical pole. HELIOSCHAR+ provides a direct measurement system for the beam reflected by the heliostats, mitigating several challenges associated with the current camera-target method. Furthermore, its parallelizability can reduce commissioning time by at least 50%, lowering the risk of receiver damage and significantly enhancing the technical, economic, and financial performance of the installation.

Together with other LEIA project partners, CENER aims to overcome existing technological and industrial barriers, enhancing not only the competitiveness and reliability of future solar thermal tower technology but also its appeal to investors.

The LEIA project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under grant agreement No. 838311. This funding is supported by the relevant Funding Agency as part of the CSP ERANET Additional Call 2021.

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