Reflection of the exceptional environment of Cerdanya and worldwide reference in solar energy research in France
In 1946, the French chemistFélix Trombe discovered how to reach high temperatures quickly by using sunlight in a very pure environment. Because of its exceptionally sunny conditions, the first solar oven in the world was built in Mont-Louis in 1949in order to pursue research on solar energy and experiment the various possibilities.
This totally innovative process consists of a huge parabolic mirror that concentrates the sun’s rays at a single point, which makes it possible to obtain at this precise point a temperature of 3000 °C – such temperature had never been reached for such an amount of time, and for free!
Today, the solar oven of Mont-Louis is still used for scientific research and for industrial and artisanal production.
The Great Solar Oven of Odeillo was put into service in 1968 after eight years of work. With its 1-megawatt power, it is one of the two largest solar ovens in the world. 50 metres high and with no less than 63 sun-tracking mirrors called heliostats, it owes its fame to the studies carried out there on the phenomena of high temperatures and the behaviour of materials subjected to extreme conditions.
Like the solar oven of Mont-Louis, the Great Solar Oven of Odeillo is located at an altitude of 1,500 metres above sea level. Odeillo was chosen for its outstanding climatic conditions typical of Cerdanya: exceptional sunshine and ultra-clean high-altitude air.
Today, this scientific tool, which makes it possible to obtain temperatures above 3,500 °C in a few seconds thanks to free and non-polluting energy, is operated by the French National Centre for Scientific Reseach (CNRS).