The proposed EST-network SOLNET consists of nine university research groups from seven different European countries and several commercial enterprises, working in the fields of civil, mechanical, and environmental engineering, as well as architecture and chemistry. Ten PhD projects shall be carried out in the framework of SOLNET. The common scope of the research activities is to lay the foundations for a new generation of solar heating and cooling systems with a high solar fraction. Within the target to improve the solar fraction of solar heating and cooling systems significantly, component development, system integration aspects, new materials, and new applications, as well as numerical system modelling serve as complementary topics for the single PhD-projects. Joint subtasks will be defined within the network activities, e.g. covering the definition of reference conditions and the development of a joint system simulation set-up scheme.
The aims of the training activities are to bring together European expert knowledge and education experience in solar thermal engineering. Bi-annual courses will be offered to the network students and other PhD students working in the field. Individual education and monitoring shall be provided and some of the students shall be seconded for several months to a different network site or company (SME). Completely new education modules will be developed and made generally accessible via an Internet platform. SOLNET will complement the European education scene in solar thermal engineering. Strengthening the postgraduate education in this significant future technology makes a contribution to reach the aims of European key policies. SOLNET will be the first coordinated international PhD course program on Solar Thermal Engineering.