Experts highlighted the competitive advantages of solar thermal technologies at Drink Solar Seminar

• During the conference, national and international success stories were presented, giving a detailed overview of the comparative costs and benefits of this type of technology.

With positive evaluations, both attendees and exhibitors at the Drink Solar 2019 Seminar agreed on the advantages that the implementation of solar technologies can bring to the agro-food industry, particularly in the beverage industry. The event brought together representatives from the solar world and producers of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, in a didactic day that addressed technical and economic aspects of solar thermal systems, as well as the experiences that industries in Chile, Mexico and South Africa have had.


The opening speech was given by Ian Nelson, General Manager of Llaima Solar, the company that organized the Seminar, an event that was supported by the Fraunhofer Chile Solar Energy Technology Center and sponsored by the Foundation for Agricultural Innovation through its Innovation Events Competition 2019. 


The Development Manager of Llaima Solar, Gonçalo Calcinha, indicated that "the objective was to pass on knowledge to the beverage industry and also share an experience that we have in Llaima with solar technology in the north in the mining companies. We have had industry representatives ask some interesting questions, and it seemed to me that there is interest from them at least to evaluate to put solar systems. It's going to be very interesting because we have to clear up the doubts that they have and do pre-feasibility studies so that they can generate solar energy.


On his part, the Director of the Center of Technologies for Solar Energy, Frank Dinter, valued that "this Seminar Drink Solar was a very good idea to show to the companies that produce drinks - such as breweries or vineyards -, that we have very good solutions to use solar energy. That is the most important thing, because the efforts are going towards having a clean world, without emissions, and in that sense, the solar thermal energy can help a lot".


The present of thermal energy


Angel Mejias, Director of Inventive Power Mexico, -invited speaker with a vast experience in the implementation of solar thermal systems- explained that "solar energy is a growing industry, it is already part of the present, it is not something that goes in the long term (...) Now what we have seen is the thermal part, that although there is a very large mix of use of different fuel sources of heat, really thermal energy is much higher than our consumption of electricity on a daily basis. If the countries are really wanting to make a commitment to reduce CO2 emissions, we have to pay attention to solar thermal energy, which I think is reawakening. And above all this type of solar process heat projects which seek to generate thermal energy where industries consume it so that they can reduce the use of their fuels.


In this sense, the possibilities of development in this sector were illustrated by the presentations of the General Manager of Cerveza Guayacán, Andrés Toro, and the researcher of the Fraunhofer Chile Solar Energy Technology Center, María Teresa Cerda, who addressed the economic and operational aspects of the initial implementation of a solar thermal system using the experience of Cerveza Guayacán in the Elqui Valley as a basis. Similarly, Fraunhofer Chile's Solar Thermal Group Leader, Mercedes Ibarra, addressed how solar thermal project financing alternatives can be developed through project applications.


Attendee's assessment


"I want to congratulate you, and I think I mean a lot by that. And I say this because I wish there were many seminars to support us entrepreneurs, those of us who are always innovating, these things that are very important, plus what renewable energy is, especially for us who are in the plant growing and wanting to make it more sustainable. This is a topic we needed to know, this was very good for me, I was left with a very clear vision of how it is being managed and where I can go in Chile to ask for help to guide us in implementing a solar energy system for our plant," said Federico Moller, General Manager of Embotelladora El Colmenar.


The activity allowed us to strengthen ties between different sectors of the solar and agro-food industries, and to project business and collaboration possibilities with a view to the sustainable development of industrial processes.