The CIC EnergiGUNE, the first energy storage centre, is inaugurated
This new scientific research centre hopes to become an international reference point within this field, of strategic importance to the energy sector
The centre's work will focus on energy storage, electrochemically and thermally, fundamental to the unrestricted development of sources of renewable energy. The centre boasts 13 highly specialised laboratories. 12 million euros have been invested in the building and associated installations, located in the Parque de Miñano, and in scientific equipment for the laboratories. Leading international experts, specialising in a number of fields relating to energy, have joined the project via the scientific committees. This new CIC (Cooperative Research Centre) will enable both public and private R&D and innovation efforts in an area wherein the Basque Country boasts a production sector that is highly competitive at international level.
The new installations are made up of a series of modular buildings that are interconnected, covering a floor area of 4500 square metres, approximately half of which is given over to the 13 laboratories. The infrastructure and equipment is this result of investment of more than 12 million euros. The centre is to be inaugurated with an Electrochemical Energy Storage Unit and a Thermal Energy Storage Unit, along with a series of technological platforms of the highest quality that support research activities (electronic microscope platform, surface analysis unit, X-Ray diffractometry platform).
This morning, the Lehendakari, Patxi López, inaugurated the installations of the CIC EnergiGUNE in the Miñano (Álava) Technology Park, a new research centre in the area of energy that hopes to become an international reference point in the field. The inaugural act was also attended by Mikel Cabieces, Central Government Delegate for the Basque Country, Juan Tomás Hernani, General Secretary for Innovation within the Ministry for Science and Innovation, Bernabé Unda, Basque Minister for Industry, Trade, Innovation and Tourism and José Ignacio Hormaeche, President and Member of the Board of the CIC EnergiGUNE and General Director of the Basque Energy Agency. Moreover, representatives of the most important companies and research centres and other Basque politicians attended as guests.
The CIC infrastructures will provide 110 jobs, of which 100 will be filled by researchers, and within its design, particular attention was afforded to flexibility and scalability, foreseeing future growth of the centre and its laboratories. Energy efficiency, the reduction of impact on landscapes and the environment and optimal comfort in the workplace are also characteristics of the latest building to be added to the Miñano Technology Park.
The main mission of CIC EnergiGUNE is to become an international reference point within the field of energy storage technologies, contributing to the long-term strengthening of the industrial competitiveness of the Basque Country in an area that boasts a booming industrial sector and engineering companies. In this manner, the centre focuses on fulfilling the following objectives:
- Harnessing and developing talent.
- The promotion of innovative infrastructures.
- The promotion of a multidisciplinary approach to achieve progress in new methods of generating electricity.
- Coordination of efforts and optimisation of the capacity of all agents working within the energy field in the Basque Country.
- Presence in and collaboration with international networks of excellence.
- Implementation of transferral and collaboration projects with universities and technology centres.
The challenge of storing energy
Initially, the CIC will focus its efforts on the storage of electrochemical and thermal energy, two technological challenges that are particularly relevant in today's world. The possibility of accumulating energy is fundamental to the unrestricted development of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar energy, which are subject to intermittency and peaks of production. More specifically, two main areas for action have been identified: storing electrochemical energy via advanced batteries and supercapacitators and storing thermal energy at high temperatures (phase change materials and thermochemical reactions)
Two collaborative research projects, aimed at stationary (incorporating renewable energy into the network, support in substations, remote applications...) and renewable applications, are already underway, along with others relating to thermal energy, one of which was presented in cooperation with the E.U.'s VII Framework Program. Furthermore, the CIC EnergiGUNE has organised an international conference on thermal energy storage, set to take place on the 16th of June, which will bring together the most renowned experts in this research field.
Attention should also be drawn to the fact that leading international experts, specialising in various areas relating to energy, are now linked to the project via two scientific committees. The committee relating to thermal energy includes Michael Epstein (Director of the WIS Solar Research Unit in Israel), Greg Glatzmaier (Head of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, NREL, in the U.S.A.), Rainer Tamme (of the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics of the German Aerospace Center, DLR), Manuel Tello (Professor of Physics in the University of the Basque Country, former Vice-Minister for Industry, responsible for numerous research projects and an advisor to the European Union) and Eduardo Zarza (Head of the CSP Research Unit at the Almeria Solar Platform, a dependency of CIEMAT). The scientific committee for batteries and supercapacitators is headed by Teófilo Rojo (Professor of Inorganic Chemistry in the University of the Basque Country) and Liya Wang (formerly Director of Emerging Technologies at A123 Systems) and its members include John Kilner (Imperial College, London), Imre Gyuk (U.S. Department of Energy), Ander Laresgoiti (Director of the Ikerlan Energy Unit), Jean Marie Tarascón (Professor at the University of Picardie, Amiens), Hisashi Tsukamoto (Chief Technology Officer in Quallion LLC) and Steven Visco (Principal Investigator in the Materials Science Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory).
The Board of CIC EnergiGUNE is made up of public and private bodies based in the Basque Country, which represent reference point agents within the field of energy, at both national and international level. Thus, in addition to the Basque Government, via the Basque Energy Agency (EVE), and the Provincial Council of Álava, the board is made up by the Energy Cluster of the Basque Country, technology centres such as IK4 and Tecnalia, the Mondragón Corporation and the companies Iberdrola, Sener, Idom, Cegasa, Gamesa, Guascor and Naturgas.
CIC EnergiGUNE, with Jesús María Goiri as General Manager, emerges with the desire to collaborate closely with the booming Basque industrial sector that works in areas linked to power electronics, energy generation and distribution and thermoelectrical solar generators.
In operation, CIC EnergiGUNE will seek to take advantage of the efforts and initiatives of the entire CIC network in the Basque Country, which includes CIC Biogune (biosciences), CIC Microgune (microtechnologies), CIC Biomagune (biomaterials), CIC Tourgune (tourism and mobility), CIC Margune (manufacturing technologies) and CIC Nanogune (nanoscience)