MiniStor coordinator interview
Interview with MiniStor’s project coordinator, Carlos Ochoa
The commitment to the decarbonisation of the building stock and the European leadership in this regard gives hope to demonstrate that the sustainable development of the residential sector is possible with the integration of innovative thermal storage systems in combination with renewable energy sources.
Carlos Ochoa is the coordinator of the H2020 Project MiniStor and Senior Researcher at the International Energy Research Centre, Tyndall National Institute in Cork, Ireland.
- What does MiniStor bring to the energy transition of the EU´s residential sector?
The possibility for homes to benefit from renewable energy in an innovative way, by storing heat generated from the sun and using it later when it is needed most
- Where does the idea of MiniStor come from?
I’ve always liked science and the amazing things you can do with it. But there are still many other things that could be done. So it was sort of a basic thought “what if we could use all the heat from a warm summer into a cold winter?” The name MiniStor came from a word association with a famous landmark in Tel Aviv, and that it can be thought as “small” (Mini) and “storage” (Stor)
- This is a H2020 project, how is it that there are countries from outside Europe participating?
The H2020 program allows for countries outside the European Union to participate. They are called “Associated Countries” and have signed specific agreements to have the same rights as EU countries. Their participation enriches this program.
- What are the big challenges that the MiniStor consortium is facing/is going to face during the project development?
Some of the big challenges include making sure all the separate components work well together, making sure we have a system that is easy to use for the end-user, and that users accept the system for future use.
- Has the current situation with the COVID-19 crisis, affected the development of the project?
It has affected us mostly in accessing demonstration sites due to social distancing restrictions. Some partners also cannot access their labs. However, we hope not to be impacted much due to these delays.
- Who are the interested parties in this project? And who can benefit from the product that is going to be available and commercialize in the future?
The MiniStor consortium is made up of industrial and commercial partners interested in renewable energy and thermal storage. There are also academics, research institutes, municipalities, from all over Europe. This means there is significant interest in such a system.
The product is expected to be made available for most households so they can save in their heating and cooling energy bills.
- What are the next steps to be taken for the project development?
The next steps would be to start monitoring demonstration sites and specify the components that go into the system.
- Final question: Is it difficult to be the project coordinator of such a big EU project?
Being project coordinator brings many challenges and decisions to make, but it is also a very interesting experience in research and management