Welcome to the Innova MicroSolar Horizon 2020 project website.




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Innova MicroSolar  (Innovative Micro Solar Heat and Power System for Domestic and Small Business Residential Buildings) is a research and innovation project funded by the European Commission under the HORIZON 2020 Framework Programme. The aim of the Innova MicroSolar  project is to enhance application of Solar Thermal Energy in domestic and small business sectors  for power and heat production.

Innova MicroSolar ID-CARD


Innova MicroSolar


Innovative Micro Solar Heat and Power System for Domestic and Small Business Residential Buildings



Type of action


Grant Agreement number



68 Months

Start date


Estimated project cost

3,999,384 €

Requested EU contribution


Total effort

575 Person-months

Project Coordinator

Prof Khamid Mahkamov – Northumbria University, UK (

EU Project officer

Mr Pau Rey-Garcia



The overall objective of this project proposal was to develop an innovative high performance and cost effective 2-kWel/18-kWth solar heat and power system for application in individual dwellings and small business residential buildings for on-site electricity and heat generation using solar thermal energy at modest temperatures of 220-250 deg. C.

The proposed technology was built around a novel flat Fresnel mirror solar concentrating collector and micro Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) plant combined with advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) thermal storage equipped with reversible heat pipes for rapid charging and discharging. The components of the plant were laboratory tested and then the whole system was field tested on the demonstration site.



The figure below presents the functional blocks of the Innova MicroSolar system: 



During project activities the innovative domestic solar heating and power system was validated (TRL 5) and demonstrated (TRL 6) in relevant environment in field tests. The operational characteristics of the whole new solar heating and power system were demonstrated during a period covering winter and summer seasons.

The project utilised the extensive expertise and knowledge, including proprietary IP, of the participants, accumulated over several decades across various disciplines, especially of:

  • Enogia (France) in the development of small and micro scale Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) plants specifically adapted for application with solar energy;
  • Elianto SRL (Italy) in the development and manufacturing of highly efficient solar concentrating collectors using linear Fresnel mirrors and its control units;
  • Thermacore Europe, the UK (Currently part of Boyd Corporation) in the development of advanced heat pipe technologies for thermal management of engineering systems;
  • Strategie (Italy) in the development of engineering smart control units for integration of solar thermal and boiler systems;
  • Sinagro Enginyeria, Spain (currently E3G) in integration of renewable heating and power technologies in buildings;
  • User Feedback Program (Spain) in analysis and predictions of socio-economic impact and commercialisation of new renewable energy products;
  • University of Lleida (Spain) in the R & D of Phase Change Materials;
  • Università eCampus (Italy) in the modelling of energy systems;
  • Northumbria University (UK) in R & D and optimisation of complex renewable energy and fossil fuel systems. Additionally, Northumbria University has experience in the development of new PCM compounds with expandable graphite; in the development of CHP systems and in complex multi-physics modelling of devices and plants for heat and mass transfer and energy conversion.

The project exploited in depth the added value from involvement of the above listed SMEs: their high standing in their respective fields, agility in the development and commercialization of new products together with their business acumen. In turn, these SMEs gained the added value in the project in terms of expanding their business. This is due to the fact that separate components developed by SMEs in this project can be easily used for another applications and find additional routes to the market. Thus, micro scale ORC of Enogia is in demand in the automotive industry for utilization of exhaust gases of internal combustion engines; reversible heat pipes are used in thermal management of numerous engineering products; the new PCM compound with enhanced thermal properties can be used in building and chemical industries for thermal management and heat recycling; solar Fresnel mirror concentrating collector with reduced dimensions find application in industrial solar heating, power and cold production etc.



The InnovaMicroSola consortium consists of academic and industrial organisations with the competences ensuring   achieving the scientific and technological goals of the project: 3 universities -Northumbria (UNN), Lleida (UDL),  Telematica eCampus (UeC) and 6 SME type commercial companies  for manufacturing and exploitation of the project developments – Enogia (France), Elianto (Italy), STRATEGIE (STE, Italy), Sinagro Enginyeria (SE, Spain) and User Feedback Program (UFP, Spain)

To accomplish all tasks in the project and to develop and demonstrate high performance solar domestic heat and power system it is necessary to have input in the following specific technologies: ORC power plant; concentrating solar collector; heat pipes; latent heat thermal storage tank; phase change materials and electronic control systems

The Table below shows the contribution and complementariness of each team in the project activities.



Elianto  takes charge in the development of concentrating solar collectors. Enogia has extensive experience in the development and production of ORC power plants and is assisted by UNN in theoretical part of activities. Also UNN has the strong track record in application of  3D CFD modelling technique for designing of heat and power systems and in system optimisation of heat and power plants.

Thermacore Europe’s business activities include production of low, medium and high temperature thermal management devices, including heat pipes and heat exchangers. They have all necessary facilities for the development of the necessary heat exchangers and thermal storage tank with reversible heat pipes. The team at Strategies has participated in the development of electronic control systems for a number of renewable energy power plants and their task in this project is to carry out similar activities on the development of the smart control unit with extended capability for the proposed system and its integration with in-house boiler system.

UdL is internationally known for their research in phase change materials for solar thermal energy accumulation and is assisted by UNN. UeC has an expertise in combined heat and power systems and also in solar concentrating collectors. Designing and building residential houses and integration of renewable energy systems into residential buildings is one of main aspects of the business in SE. Finally, the project requires knowledge in Building Industry and an input into market research related. to demand and potential for production of the proposed system. This  expertise is provided by SE and UFP. UFP also possess knowledge in determination of the social and environmental impact from deployment of various types of renewable energy systems and in conducting Life Cycle Analysis of Renewable energy products.


Partner Information 

[More detailed information on the project participants can be found at their respective websites]


Faculty of Engineering and Environment

University of Northumbria at Newcastle

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK


Contact: Prof. Khamid Mahkamov (Project Co-ordinator)


  Northumbria logo

GREA Innovació Concurrent

Department of Computer Science and Engineering

University of Lleida

Lleida, Spain


Contact: Prof. Dr. Luisa F. Cabeza (Team Leader)


 grea logo

Faculty of Engineering

Università eCampus

Novedrate, Province of Como, Italy


Contact: Dr Luca Ciocollonate (Team leader)




Marseille, France


Contact: Mr Arthur Leroux, CEO (Team leader)



Elianto (Concentrating Solar Power)

Pula, Cagliari, Sardegna, Italy


Contact: Mr Piero Pili, CEO (Team leader)



Thermacore Europe

Ashington, Northumberland, UK


Contact: Dr Georgios Gkounis (Team leader)




Ancona, Italy


Contact: Prof Carlo Bartolini, CEO (Team leader)



Sinagro Enginyeria

Lleida, Spain


Contact: Mr Antonio Gimbernat, MD (Team leader)



User Feedback Program

Almenar, Spain


Contact: Ms Teresa Botargues Giron, CEO (Team Leader)






Twelfth (final) meeting

The final project meeting was held on 26 April 2022 at Lleida University (Lleida, Spain).

The results of plant’s field test results were discussed. Exploitation plan of obtained results after the completion of the project was finalised by the Project Consortium.

picture of meeting


Eleventh meeting (online format)

The eleventh project meeting was held on 14 September 2021.

The main focus of the meeting was on accomplishing improvements in the design of the ORC turbine and Thermal Storage modules and planning the continuation of field tests of the plant on the demo site.


Tenth meeting (online format)

The tenth project meeting was held on 19 March 2021. Preparation and finalisation of field tests planning was discussed ny the Project Consortium.


Ninth meeting

The ninth project meeting was held at the e-Campus University (Rome, Italy) on 28-29 November 2019.

picture of meeting

picture of meeting


Eighth Meeting

The eighth project meeting was held at the University of Lleida, Spain on 15-16 July 2019


The Seventh Meeting

The seventh project meeting was held at Università degli Studi eCampus, Novedrate, Italy, between 5-6 September 2018.

Sixth Meeting

The sixth project meeting was held at the University of Lleida, Spain on 24-25 May 2018


Fifth Meeting
The fifth meeting of consortium members was held at Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, in January 2018

fifth meeting

Fourth Meeting

The fourth meeting of consortium members was held at S.TRA.TE.G.I.E in Ancona, Italy, on 5-6 October 2017

Third Meeting

The third meeting of consortium members was held at Elianto in Cagliari, Italy, on 15-16 June 2017

Third Meeting

Second Meeting

The second meeting of consortium members was held at ENOGIA in Marseilles, France on 12-13 January 2017


 Second Meeting

Project kick-off meeting

The first meeting of consortium members was held at Lleida University on 21-23 September 2016


Project activities for each team for the next 12 months were discussed and the plan and time-table of actions was approved. Grant Partnership Agreement was agreed upon and signed after the meeting.  The next meeting of the Consortium will take place on 12-13 January 2017 in Marseille, France (host – Enogia).

Current Progress in R&D of the Demo Plant

The demo plant was designed, built and preliminary tested. As a result of such preliminary tests, the designs of components and the whole plant were improved, followed by field tests. Photo below shows the plant’s engine room and solar concentrating mirrors after completion of field tests.

The appearance of the final configuration of the engine room (April 2022)
The appearance of the final configuration of the engine room (April 2022)

The appearance of the final design of the solar field (April 2022)
The appearance of the final design of the solar field (April 2022)

The links below provide some recordings of the field experiments:

Experimental results demonstrate that the plant achieves the target values from 25 April to 20 September (2 kWel and 18 kWth output with the efficiency of the ORC at 10% level and total plant efficiency at 90%). In late November and December 2021 and January 2022, there was no sufficient level of solar energy to run the ORC turbine, and TES system and heat generated by the solar field was directly used to heat up water for domestic use. In other periods of the year the performance of the plant is reduced with the drop in irradiance.

Experimental results

A screenshot of the ORC turbine Control Graphical User Interface – production of 2250 W (the performance of the ORC turbine with GHI ≥1036 W/m2 and Toilinlet ≈ 200 deg. C, corresponding to the end of April, May-June-July-August and beginning of September).

The seasonal variation of the typical average electrical energy output of the ORC turbine.
The seasonal variation of the typical average electrical energy output of the ORC turbine.

The seasonal variation of the typical average thermal energy output of the plant.
The seasonal variation of the typical average thermal energy output of the plant.

The plant provides more than 60% of the energy demand and reduces GHD emissions by more than 20%. The Extrapolation of obtained experimental results to other regions of the EU and beyond demonstrate that the plant has a strong potential and is competitive with other renewable energy technologies (biomass, air-to-water and geothermal heat pumps, PV)



Innova MicroSolar Project Posters-flyers-leaflets



A short presentational movie was made by UNN on Innova MicroSolar Project and placed on the Project website for the general public. This movie is also placed on “Innova-MicroSolar” page on YouTube (Innova MicroSolar - YouTube). This page contains four short presentational movies on field tests of the plant.

The Project was also featured in the following newspaper articles:

  • Regional newspaper SeGRE – 17 September 2016 (Lleida, Spain).
  • Regional newspaper SeGRE – 22 September 2016 (Lleida, Spain). (Italy).

Liaising with third partis for commercialisation of components and plant

Discussions took place with a number of interested parties on possible tests of the plant, namely

  • The Municipality of the town of Bonarcado in the Province of Oristano, Sardinia, Italy.
  • The Municipality of City of Pula, Sardinia, Italy.
  • The Municipality of City of Macomer, Sardinia, Italy.
  • Tata Power on possible field tests in Bhira village, Raigadh district/ Maharashtra, India.
  • Elpis Energy Solutions Pvt. Ltd, India.
  • Gulf Research and Development company on the application of a similar concept in Qatar.
  • ENEA, Italy.
  • ENI, Italy.
  • Federal Ministry of Power, Nigeria.

To date, Enogia signed three contracts for supplying similar ORCs to different clients and conducting contract discussions with the other two organisations.

Elianto signed three contracts on building similar solar fields for clients.

Strategies supplied a similar control system to a client and currently negotiating with another organisation to supply a control system product.

Thermacore is at the phase of completing the intention to sign two contracts and at negotiating stage with a company on the supply of heat pipes developed for the Innova MicroSolar project.

Finally, Enogia has agreed with the Municipality of the City of Macomer (Sardinia) to continue the further demonstration tests of the Innova MicroSolar Plant in application to two local schools with the training of the students of the local technical college.


The Innova MicroSolar project was presented at the following events:/p>

Event 1

IEA SHC Task 58/ECES. Annex 33: Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage. Lyon (France). April 5th-8th, 2017./p>

picture of presentation

Event 2

Working day “IRB-Lleida/INSPIRES – University of Lleida”, Lleida (Spain). June 12th, 2017./p>

picture of presentation

Event 3

Researcher´s Night. University of Lleida – Cappont Campus, Lleida (Spain). September 23rd, 2017. /p>

picture of presentation

Event 4

Noon-to-noon with energy and environmental challenges. Perugia (Italy) – Campus di Ingegneria. February 15th-16th, 2018./p>

picture of presentation

Event 5

IEA SHC Task 58 - 3rd Experts Meeting. National Institute of Chemistry Hajdrihova Ljubljana (Slovenia) April 9th -11th, 2018./p>

picture of presentation

Event 6.

  • The specialised project workshop titled “Innovative heating and power systems for future buildings”, 16 January 2019, Rome (organised by Association of Engineers of Rome, e-Campus University and Interuniversity Research Centre for Sustainable Development (CIRPS)
  • The presentation was given on description of aim and objectives of Innova MicroSolar Project and on current progress in the project activities. The event was organised to promote the Innova MicroSolar Project to the potential stakeholders (industry, researchers, end-users – 168 people).
  • Impact and benefits for the Project: knowledge transfer on the project concept and results together with the project promotion.

picture of presentation

Event 7.

  • ICCHMT 2019 – XII International Conference on Computational Heat, Mass and Momentum Transfer, 3- 6 September, Rome, Italy (organised by Roma Tre University).
  • The event was selected since this is a traditional gathering of the stakeholders in thermal technologies (industry, researchers, end-users – 350 people)
  • Two papers were presented: “Numerical investigation of the tube modelling on solar combined heating and power plant” and “One-dimensional thermal model of receiver tube for linear Fresnel reflectors”.
  • Impact and benefits for the Project: knowledge transfer about the numerical studies based on the project concept and project promotion.

Event 8.

  • 5th International Seminar on ORC Power Systems 2019, 9th-11th September, Athens, Greece, (organised by National Technical University of Athens). The event was selected since this is a traditional gathering of the main stakeholders in ORC technology (industry, researchers, end-users – around 120 people, including representatives of 15 companies)
  • A paper was presented with the title of “ORC conversion of solar heat to electricity and low-temperature heat for domestic use”
  • Impact and benefits for the Project: knowledge transfer relevant to the ORC, developed within the project framework, and project promotion.

The main focus of the presentation was the implementation of the Innova MicroSolar plant as a whole system and the ORC operational feedback: issues, investigation of causes, and solutions./p>

The presentation was met with great interest since it was focused on the description of one of the smallest ORC units in the world. The majority of asked questions were about operational performance study, in particular concerning the control and automation of the system. Most interests were from academics at University of Centrale Lyon, Univerté de Liège and Brunel University. Companies most interested in the product were potential providers of compact equipment (AKG) and Chinese investors looking for remote site solutions. Contacts were established with them to discuss further interaction on the developed ORC unit./p>

Event 9.

  • European Researchers’ Night 2019. From 27th to 29th of September, Lleida, Spain (organised by University of Lleida and Inspires institute.
  • The event was selected for attendance because of its importance at the European level and promotion by the European Commission. As the project funding agency is the European Union´s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, this opportunity to promote the Project must be used.
  • The project concept was demonstrated as a part of Europe´s corner.
  • Target audience: general community.
  • Impact and benefits for the Project: knowledge transfer and project promotion.

Event 10.

  • UK Heat Transfer Conference, 8-10 September 2019, Nottingham University, UK (organised by the UK Heat Transfer Committee). The event was selected since this is the traditional gathering of the stakeholders in heat pipes technology (audience – 130 people).
  • To present the paper titled “HEAT PIPE FOR APPLICATIONS ABOVE 280 °C”.
  • Target audience: academics and industrial partners in the thermos-fluids field (110 people);
  • Impacts and benefits: to share high-temperature water heat pipe epical data and operation around the boiling limit and demonstrate its use in thermal storage applications (knowledge transfer) and project promotion

Event 11.

  • 8th International Conference on Energy and Sustainability, 3-6 July 2019, Coimbria, Portugal (organised by Wessex Institute). The event was selected since this is the traditional gathering of the stakeholders in Energy and Sustainability fields (audience – 150 people).
  • Paper titled “Comparative study of two types of medium temperature phase change materials”.
  • Impact and benefits for the Project: knowledge transfer and project promotion.

Event 12: Specialised project workshop.

  • The specialised project workshop “Renewable energy technologies for the built environment” will be organised on the 27th of November 2019 at the premises of e-Campus University headquarter in Novedrate (COMO) together with the Association of the Engineers of Como and with the support of Regione Lombardia (one of the most industrialised regions of Italy).
  • The presentation will be made on Innova Microsolar Project (aim, objectives, current progress and obtained results);
  • The audience will include industrial companies, academics and end-users.
  • The workshop will be streamed to all other branches of the e-Campus University across Italy, thus providing the highest dissemination possible.
  • Potential Impact and benefits for the Project: knowledge transfer and project promotion.

picture of presentation

Event 13: The online International Conference “Advances in Renewable and CleanEnergy Technologies”, 7-10 June 2022 (

  • This conference was jointly organised by the Federal University of Itajuba (Brazil) and Northumbria University and co-sponsored by FAPEMIG (the State of Minas Gerais) and the British Council. The Conference was co-chair by Professor Electo Silva Lora (UNIFEI) and Khamid Mahkamov (Northumbria University).
  • The Conference had 306 attendees, including regional authorities, academies, research organisations, industry and PhD and undergraduate students.
  • There were 37 invited lectures from Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Spain, the United States, Finland, India, Italy, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Sweden.
  • Three invited lectures were provided by Prof Khamid Mahkamov, Dr Piro Pili and Dr Luca Ciccolanti (Project consortium members), describing the design and results of the Innova MicroSolar Project.

picture of presentation

picture of presentation

Additionally, the demo site of the Innova MicroSolar Project was open to visitors, and frequent excursions were organised by local and regional authorities for members of the public and schoolchildren from the local district and regional secondary schools. /p>

Excursion of the demo site for the regional secondary school pupils and general public

During the project's lifetime, about 4 thousand attendees visited the demo site.


If you wish to contact us, please send an email to the Project Coordinator, Prof Khamid Mahkamov, at Northumbria University: