The industrial sector is the largest global energy consumer, with 32% of the global demand. Since most of industrial energy needs are in thermal processes, 74% of total industry demand is heat at different temperatures, most of which comes from fossil fuels. As a result, the industrial sector is the biggest contributor to carbon emissions at European level (>50%), only 9% of industrial heat consumption comes from renewable sources. This is mainly due to the fact that current options for renewable heat generation are limited to heat pumps and biomass, which have drawbacks that hinder their extended use.
Concentrating solar energy could play a major role, especially in industrial areas with high insolation rates. The main advantages are its capability to produce medium temperature heat and its compatibility with proven heat storage systems that ensure 24 hours energy delivery. Despite their potential benefits for industrial use, up to date they have exclusively been developed for power generation applications, and not for heat.With the Butterfly we aim to disrupt the market of solar thermal energy by introducing a pioneering solar tower system optimised for industrial use.
Our system consists of a downscaled module with 700 heliostats (for 2MW heat production) distributed in 100 m radius area and a solar tower. It can fit in or close to the premises of industrial users. Since the receiver only needs to be visible from 100 m, our tower only requires to be 25 m tall, allowing for a drastic simplification of its construction and for a reduction of costs. The Butterfly allows for low development costs (thanks to its modular design, and low manufacturing costs by using the same standard components to reach economy of scale by mass production. Manufacturing time for a Butterfly module is less than 3 months and can be installed within a week (investment costs less than €1 M per module).