CIRCE is a technology centre, founded in 1993 in Spain, which works on a daily basis to improve the competitiveness of the business fabric through the transfer of technological solutions in the field of energy and sustainability.
Interview with Andrés Llombart, CEO at CIRCE.
Easy Engineeering: A brief description of the company and its activities.
Andrés Llombart: CIRCE is made up of more than 280 interdisciplinary professionals who work together to have the best references to be able to anticipate the challenges of the different industrial sectors, committing themselves to the implementation of the solutions developed.
CIRCE has been headquartered in Zaragoza since 1993 and has offices in Madrid and Brussels, as a result of its international vocation and activity. In this way, the organisation seeks to become an international benchmark in energy, a multiplier of investment in R&D&I, a focus for talent and a generator of innovative and competitive ideas and solutions.
E.E: What are the main areas of activity of the company?
A.L: CIRCE has been working for 30 years on transferring technological solutions to the industry in the fields of renewable energies, electricity grids, sustainable mobility, industry 4.0, energy efficiency and circular economy.
E.E: What’s the news about new products?
A.L: At CIRCE we are continuously working on new developments to adapt in real time to the volatility and changing needs of the market.
In the field of the circular economy, we are aware of the challenge for companies to move from linear to circular production processes. That is why we have a laboratory in our facilities where we carry out the necessary tests of the recycling technologies in vogue in order to be able to transfer them later to the industrial environment. These include pyrolysis, solvolysis and microwave ovens, with which we can recover everything from wind turbine blades to textiles or plastics.
Equally important are developments aimed at helping industry to decarbonise and integrate new renewable sources. To this end, we have a new flexible gaseous combustion furnace with which we can help by testing different fuels such as hydrogen and syngas to replace natural gas and to generate simulation models and artificial vision algorithms to carry out combustion in the most effective way possible.
In the field of electricity grids and renewable energies, we are already helping the sector with new developments that help to overcome such important challenges as curtailment, grid security and the deployment of electric vehicles, among others. In this area, we are already helping the sector with new developments that help to overcome such important challenges as curtailment, grid security and the deployment of electric vehicles, among others. CIRCE developments such as a V2G charger, a fault locator in medium voltage grids and a tool for calculating and forecasting curtailment are already available to our customers.
E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?
A.L: Our market is in full expansion due to the massive deployment of renewable energies and the new needs to incorporate more sustainable and environmentally friendly processes. This is why the solutions developed by CIRCE in these areas are taking on special relevance.
According to Red Eléctrica’s estimates, renewable energies could reach 50% of annual electricity generation in Spain. This represents a great opportunity but also significant challenges in the field of planning, operation and forecasting of the electricity grid.
The same applies to the industrial sector, which is currently undergoing an intense process towards decarbonisation. This is why solutions in the areas of energy efficiency, artificial intelligence and waste recovery are in high demand.
As a technology centre, we are attentive to the changes in our market in order to adapt quickly to its needs. In this sense, we are testing new technologies for waste recovery and recycling, how to help industry integrate hydrogen into their processes, we are launching tools to help grid operators to foresee curtailment in their renewable generation plants and even new electric vehicle charging technologies such as V2G or wireless charging, among other developments.
E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?
A.L: Our market is very broad, covering the energy and sustainability sectors. It is therefore difficult to define just one market trend. However, if we had to name one, artificial intelligence is having a very strong impact on all productive sectors as a tool to improve efficiency, automate processes or anticipate problems.
Specifically, artificial intelligence has a variety of applications including task and process automation, data analytics to aid decision-making, predictive maintenance, supply chain optimisation, and security and fraud detection. Artificial intelligence is therefore positioned as a useful tool for tackling major industry challenges such as decarbonisation and process efficiency.
E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?
A.L: As a technology centre, all the products and services we launch on the market are based on innovation. An example of this would be our GENERAPP tool, a platform whose objective is to help energy distributors to make decisions in different scenarios. Specifically, thanks to it, DSOs can make hypotheses and simulations for the calculation of curtailment at a node both in plants that are in operation and in future projects. They can also calculate access and connection and simulate in real time the nodal capacity available at each node of the electricity grid.
E.E: What estimations do you have for 2023?
A.L: CIRCE celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2023 with great challenges to achieve. This year, the technology centre aims to maintain sustained growth that will allow it to increase technological sales and licensing of innovative solutions developed within the framework of R&D&I projects. In this way, the technology centre will fulfil its mission of continuing to support companies in their energy and sustainability challenges so that they can continue to compete in increasingly demanding international markets and in the current energy situation with volatile prices.
In the area of funding programmes, CIRCE expects to exceed 9 million euros of return in the Horizon Europe programme this year and to reach 10 million euros, taking into account all public calls for proposals. The ultimate goal is to obtain funds that will allow it to promote projects focused on carrying out innovative developments in the fields of operation and maintenance of photovoltaic parks, the development of protections for the integration of renewables in low voltage grids, the development of hardware and software for the integration and management of assets in energy communities as a source of flexibility services and artificial intelligence tools for energy-intensive industry, among others.
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