Belgian paper and packaging manufacturer Avery Dennison has commissioned construction of the largest concentrated solar and thermal storage unit in Europe. The facility will be used to provide heat for the company’s factory in Turnhout, Belgium. 

Concentrated solar power generates renewable energy using mirrors and lenses to concentrate sunlight across a large area into a receiver.  

The Turnhout unit will have 2,240 surface mirrors, with a solar field peak yield of 2.7 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of thermal power, and six thermal storage modules with a capacity of five megawatt-hours of thermal power. It is being developed by technology company Energynest, concentrated solar thermal company Azteq and local community group Campina Energie. 

The installation will reduce Avery Dennison’s emissions by an average of 9% annually, providing heat equivalent to 2.3GWh of gas consumption. During the peak summer months, the unit will provide 100% of the factory’s heat demand for its drying ovens. 

The unit will cover roughly 5,540m² and contain the largest installation of parabolic mirrors combined with thermal energy storage in an industrial setting in Europe. 

Concentrated solar can produce the intense heat needed for industrial processes from renewable sources. It has applications across hard-to-abate industries including the production of chemicals, food and beverages, and building materials such as cement, brick and steel. 

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By GlobalData

“Investments in innovative renewable energy sources, like this project in Turnhout, will lower our carbon output and have a positive effect on climate change,” said Tinne Van der Straeten, Belgian Minister of Energy, in a press release on 6 September. 

The manufacturing industry is currently responsible for around one-fifth of the world’s carbon emissions and around 54% of the world’s energy use

“Companies across industries are considering how to best reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and decarbonise high-emitting activities, like heat production, while continuing to provide affordable, reliable goods and services to consumers,” said Christian Thiel, CEO of Energynest.  

Concentrated solar has typically been underused when compared with photovoltaics. However, concentrated solar offers around twice the energy capture per unit of surface area photovoltaics.