Technology Assumptions and Issues

Trough Technology: The experience from the nine SEGS plants demonstrates the commercial nature of paraboli c trough solar collector and power plant technologies. Given this experience, it is assumed that future parabolic troug h plant designs will continue to focus on the Luz parabolic trough collector technology and Rankine cycle steam powe r plants. The next plants built are assumed to copy the 80 MW SEGS plant design and use the third generation Lu z System Three parabolic trough collector.

Cost and Performance Data: The information presented is based on existing SEGS plant designs and operationa l experience. In addition, much of the cost data comes from PilkSolar [1] who has been actively pursuing opportunities for parabolic trough developments in many international locations. Performance projections assume a solar resourc e that would be typical for plants located in the California Mojave Desert. PilkSolar developed a detailed hour-by-hou r simulation code to calculate the expected annual performance of parabolic trough plants. This model has bee n validated by baselining it against an operating SEGS plant. The model was found to reproduce real plant performance within 5% on an annual basis. The model can be used to perform design trade-off studies with a reasonable level o f confidence.

Power Plant Size: Increasing plant size is one of the easiest ways to reduce the cost of solar electricity from paraboli c trough power plants. Studies have shown that doubling the size reduces the capital cost by approximately 12-14% [1]. Figure 5 shows an example of how the levelized energy cost for solar electricity decreases by over 60% by onl y increasing the plant size. Cost reduction typically comes from three areas. First, the increased manufacturing volume of collectors for larger plants drives the cost per square meter down. Second, a power plant that is twice the size will not cost twice as much to build. Third, the O&M costs for larger plants will typically be less on a per kilowatt basis . For example, it takes about the same number of operators to operate a 10 MW plant as it does a 400 MW plant [2]. Power plant maintenance costs will be reduced with larger plants but solar field maintenance costs will scale mor e linearly with solar field size.


Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.

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