Solar

Solar One, which operated from 1982 to 1988, was the world's largest power tower plant. It proved that large-scae power production with power towers was feasible. In that plant, water was converted to steam in the receiver and used directly to power a conventional Rankine-cycle steam turbine. The heliostat field consisted of 1818 heliostats of 39. 3 m2 reflective area each. The project met most of its technical objectives by demonstrating (1) the feasibility o f generating power with a power tower, (2) the ability to generate 10 MWe for eight hours a day at summer solstice and four hours a day near winter solstice. During its final year of operation, Solar One's availability during hours o f sunshine was 96% and its annual efficiency was about 7%. (Annual efficiency was relatively low because of the plant's small size and the inclusion of non-optimized subsystems.)

The Solar One thermal storage system stored heat from solar-produced steam in a tank filled with rocks and sand using oil as the heat-transfer fluid. The system extended the plant's power-generation capability into the night and provided heat for generating low-grade steam for keeping parts of the plant warm during off-hours and for morning startup . Unfortunately, the storage system was complex and thermodynamically inefficient. While Solar One successfull y demonstrated power tower technology, it also revealed the disadvantages of a water/steam system, such as the intermittent operation of the turbine due to cloud transcience and lack of effective thermal storage.

During the operation of Solar One, research began on the more advanced molten-salt power tower design describe d previously. This development culminated in the Solar Two project.

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