DISCOVER THE NEW GENERATION OF CENTRAL TOWER CSP PLANTS
Solar tower plants are one of the most promising technologies in the competition for the lowest possible LCOE (Levelized Cost of Energy). The high solar concentration ratio leads to a high thermodynamic output of the power cycle compared to the parabolic trough technology, thanks to the higher working fluid temperatures. However, for this to become a reality, it is essential that the solar field and the receiver are designed together to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.
In a solar tower plant, the heliostat characteristics largely determine the energy efficiency of the solar field. The solar field can represent up to 50% of the total cost of the plant, playing a very important role in the overall project feasibility.
Current heliostats are intensive in structure, wiring, assembly, and edging. The usual optical quality of 2 mrad (1.5 mrad as minimum) leading to spillage losses of up to 15% when aiming strategies are necessary to avoid exceeding the thermal limits of the receiver. In addition, the commissioning and maintenance time and costs are very high due to the calibration operations. None of these systems are wireless or self-powered.
Its design simplicity features much lighter structures, does not require foundations and saves costs. In addition, the powerless and wireless solution eliminates the need of trenching and wiring. On top of that, its record low optical quality down to 0.6 mrad drastically reduces the spillage losses, allow for more accurate aiming strategies and more efficient layout configurations.
Along with the heliostats, the receiver is a critical component of solar tower plant. The coupled design of these two key plant subsystems enhances the overall plant performance. Consequently, although the number of MWe generated by solar tower plants is increasing year by year worldwide, the technology is not yet fully mature and has still a lot of potential for improvement.
The new solution proposed by PHOTON increases significantly the competitiveness of central tower concentrating solar technology by reducing the LCOE.
The development of this new generation of hybrid autonomous heliostats and tailored receivers represents a clear upgrade over previous designs by increasing the overall plant performance and reducing CAPEX.