Transforming sunlight into renewable energy for sustainable heating

Renewable energy has been hailed as the world’s least expensive energy source. To accelerate the renewable energy transition, Danish solar energy supplier Heliac A/S is turning energy from the sun into solar heat for global process industries – at costs well below heat produced from fossil fuel combustion. To do so, Heliac collaborated with Alfa Laval to develop a highly efficient solar receiver for the Heliac Solar Tracker. The Heliac solar thermal technology and business model are redefining the way solar heat is produced, sold and integrated into tomorrow’s energy solutions today.

DATE 2023-11-28

Transitioning to concentrated solar heat

Unlike traditional curved-lens technology, the Heliac Solar Tracker uses flat transparent lenses to concentrate the sun’s radiant energy into a single high-intensity beam. A critical system component is the high-performance Alfa Laval STC40 solar receiver, which transforms the concentrated sunlight into heat energy. The result is a versatile, innovative solar energy solution that drastically reduces the costs and carbon footprint of thermal heating for industrial processes.

How the Heliac Solar Tracker works


1. Lenses − Each lens in the eight-lens panel concentrates the sunlight 50 times onto the Alfa Laval STC40 solar receivers.

2. Panels − Each panel consists of eight lenses, one foundation vibrated into the ground and piping between the receivers.

3. Follows the sun − Each eight-lens panel tracks the sunlight individually in two dimensions, ensuring optimal harvest of energy.

4. Receiver − The temperature of the water is increased 1–2°C per receiver.

Designing a fit-for-purpose solar receiver

Heliac faced difficulties sourcing a solar receiver because its solar tracker concentrated the sunlight at such high intensities that the heat burned through the metal of other solar receivers. That’s when Heliac asked Alfa Laval for help.

Working with Alfa Laval experts to develop a quality fit-for-purpose solar receiver has been a rewarding learning experience. Their structured approach to iterative design and engineering has been invaluable, when dealing with issues that arise,” says Henrik Pranov, CEO, Heliac.

“Alfa Laval works through and overcomes design challenges. Through continual testing and refinements, we reached our goal, a high-efficiency solar receiver that meets our requirements.”

The innovative Alfa Laval STC40 solar receiver, made of 100% stainless steel, provides unbeatable reliability, unmatched corrosion resistance and the capability to withstand temperatures up to 550°C (1,020°F). To absorb sunlight more efficiently and maximize the amount of energy transformed into heat, Heliac applied a special coating to the STC40.

There are two essential components responsible for the efficiency of our Heliac Solar Tracker. The Alfa Laval STC40 is one of them. The other is our flat transparent lens,” says Mr. Pranov. “But without the Alfa Laval STC40, we would not have a product.”

High efficiency, greater cost savings

Efficiency is at the forefront of the Heliac agenda. The Heliac Solar Tracker and the Alfa Laval STC40 deliver the same efficiency as traditional curved mirror-based solar concentrators at costs far less than comparable traditional technologies. The flat structure of Heliac panels requires less material to manufacture, less site work, and easier-to-install ramp foundations instead of concrete foundations. They are also easy to position in the solar fields, which is especially useful in areas prone to high winds. The STC40 also contributes to sustainable cost savings due to its high efficiency and small footprint.

Urgent need to transition to clean energy

As global energy demand continues to rise and more countries work to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, the transition to renewable energy is critical to energy security. Concentrated solar heat can provide a sound pathway forward. Deploying renewable heat solutions like the Heliac Solar Tracker with the Alfa Laval STC40 solar receiver can support the transition to renewable energy. Heliac is working to mainstream the Heliac Solar Tracker with the Alfa Laval STC40 solar receiver as an essential energy solution.

“Our aim is to move as quickly as possible to meet the demand for solar heat,” says Mr. Pranov. “Alfa Laval has proven to be a reliable partner who can tailor solutions and support us from pilot projects to commercial-scale solutions. We anticipate that Alfa Laval will be with us every step of the way through the transformation of the energy market, delivering millions of solar receivers as we scale up.”

Download the full case story



Accelerating sustainable solutions

Together with our customers and our partners, Alfa Laval is accelerating the transition to more efficient, cleaner energy solutions and moving the circular economy forward.
Our deep industry knowledges enables us to optimize customer processes, overcome the toughest challenges, and continue making the world better every single day.

Start your transition here