Conference proceedings SolarPACES 2018


Discover the scientific publications AIP Conference Proceedings about POLYPHEM produced after the SolarPACES Conference 2018, which took place on 2-5 October 2018 in Casablanca, Morocco.

The POLYPHEM project: An innovative small-scale solar thermal combined cycle

Cite as: AIP Conference Proceedings 2126, 030022 (2019);
Published Online: 26 July 2019

Authors: Alain Ferriere, Sebastien Chomette, Esther Rojas, Juan-Manuel Caruncho, Thomas Fluri, Daniel Ipse, Richard Aumann, Marie Prouteau, and Jens Jorgen Falsig


The POLYPHEM project is a research and innovation action funded by the European Union’s H2020 program. The project started in April 2018 and will end in March 2022. It is implemented by a European consortium of 4 research centers and 5 industrial partners. The aim of this project is both to increase the flexibility and improve the performance of small solar tower power plants. The POLYPHEM concept consists in implementing a combined cycle formed by a solarized micro gas-turbine and a Rankine organic cycle machine, with an integrated thermal storage device between the two cycles. The need for cooling is minimal. Developed from a technology already patented by CNRS and CEA, the pressurized air solar receiver is integrated in the micro-turbine cycle. The thermal efficiency targeted for the receiver is 80% with a cost of 400 €/kW. The innovative thermal storage uses thermal oil and a single thermocline tank with a technical concrete filler material. The main expected impact of this project is to enhance the competitiveness of low-carbon energy production systems through the technology developed. The expected progress is a better fitting of electricity generation to variable local needs and an overall conversion efficiency of solar energy into electricity of 18% for an investment cost of less than 5 €/W with low environmental impact. By 2030, the cost of electricity production targeted by the POLYPHEM technology is 165 €/MWh for an annual direct normal irradiation of 2600 kWh/m2/year (North Africa and Middle East) and 209 €/MWh under 2050 kWh/m2/year (Southern Europe). In addition to decentralized power generation, other applications are considered for the deployment of this technology used in poly-generation: industrial heat production, solar heating and cooling, desalination of seawater or brackish water. A prototype plant of 60 kWel with a thermal storage of 1300 kWh is designed, built and installed on the site of the experimental solar tower of Themis in Targasonne (France). The objective of the project is to validate the technical choices under test conditions representative of actual operating conditions.