SolarPACES is an international cooperative network bringing together
teams of national experts from around the world to focus on the
development and marketing of concentrating solar power systems (also known
as solar thermal power systems). It is one of a number of collaborative
programs, called Implementing Agreements, managed under the umbrella of the International Energy Agency to
help find solutions to worldwide energy problems.
kind of work does SolarPACES do?
Technology development is at the core of the work of SolarPACES. Member
countries work together on activities aimed at solving the wide range of
technical problems associated with commercialization of concentrating
solar technology, including large-scale system tests and the development
of advanced technologies, components, instrumentation, and systems
analysis techniques. In addition to technology development, market
development and building of awareness of the potential of concentrating
solar technologies are key elements of the SolarPACES program.
are its recent achievements?
A few examples illustrate the range of work of SolarPACES. Cooperative
development and testing of key solar components, including advanced
concentrators and receivers, has helped reduce the costs and improve the
reliability of concentrating solar technology.
tests of pilot-scale plants have demonstrated
the performance and reliability data needed to predict commercial plant
performance. Similarly, cooperative action on systems operation and
maintenance has led to reduced costs at the commercial Kramer Junction
parabolic trough plants in the United States, and helps to ensure
cost-competitiveness in current concentrating solar power plants. The
SolarPACES "START" (Solar Thermal Analysis, Review and Training)
teams have carried out missions to support the introduction of
concentrating solar power to developing countries in the Sunbelt. By
sending an international team of experts, independent technical advice has
been made available to interested countries including Egypt, Jordan,
Brazil and Mexico. START missions to Egypt and Brazil have already
contributed to successful applications to the Global Environment Facility
(GEF) for the first phase of planning a concentrating solar power plant in
Egypt and an experimental plant in Brazil. In solar chemistry research,
where the commercialization goals are more long term, SolarPACES has
succeeded in building up and supporting international interest, defining
research priorities, and facilitating cooperative international research.
are its members?
Currently SolarPACES has 19 members: Australia, Austria, Algeria, Brazil, China, Egypt, the European Commission, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and United States of America. Membership is open to all countries, subject to Executive
Committee approval, and involves a government (or its nominated
contracting party) becoming a signatory to the program's
"Implementing Agreement," which defines SolarPACES' charter and
conditions of membership. Sponsors are members not designated by any Government and can be e.g. international organisations or private companies who become members subject to a specific association procedure.
is industry involved?
The work of SolarPACES focuses on developing new and advanced
concentrating solar technology for eventual commercialization, so
industrial partnership plays a critical role. Many of the tasks'
activities involve industrial cooperation, including international teams.
In fact, in some countries (e.g. the Australia, South Africa),
the SolarPACES contracting party is an industrial consortium. Intellectual
property can be protected as needed.
is SolarPACES managed?
All SolarPACES' activities are overseen by an Executive Committee (ExCo)
composed of individuals nominated from each member country. The ExCo meets
twice yearly to formulate strategic objectives, direct the program of
work, review results and accomplishments, and report to the IEA. An
elected Chairperson presides over the ExCo meetings, and throughout the
year an Executive Secretary deals with the ongoing management of the
How is the work coordinated?
The Implementing Agreement specifies broad "Tasks," or thematic
areas of work. SolarPACES currently has three ongoing tasks, focusing on
concentrating solar electric power systems (Task I), solar chemistry
research (Task II), and solar technology and applications (Task III). An
Operating Agent, nominated by the ExCo, is responsible for overseeing the
work of each task. Each task maintains a detailed program of work that
defines all task activities, including their objectives, participants,
plans, and budgets. In addition to technical reports of the activities and
their participants, accomplishments and progress are summarized in the
SolarPACES annual report. Many SolarPACES activities involve close
cooperation among member countries (either through sharing of task
activities or, occasionally, cost-sharing), although some cooperation is
limited to sharing of information and results with other participants.
How is SolarPACES financed?
The main aim of SolarPACES is to bring added value to the nationally based
work that is already funded by member governments. SolarPACES is thus not
in itself a "big budget" operation and normally does not provide
funding for member countries' work. The small annual fee paid by member
countries is used to support a limited range of cooperative activities
approved by the ExCo, including, for example, START missions, document
publication and distribution, and activities to build international
International Energy Agency
The International Energy Agency (IEA), founded in 1974 is the energy forum
for industrialized countries. Based in Paris, the IEA is an autonomous
agency within the framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD). An important function of the IEA is the
promotion of enhanced international collaboration on energy research and
the development and application of new and efficient energy
technologies. The IEA has set up more than 60 Implementing Agreements
linking member Countries in R&D and technology demonstration and