A Non-Intrusive Optical Approach to Characterize Heliostats in Utility-Scale Power Tower Plants: Flight Path Generation/Optimization of Unmanned Aerial Systems

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4 Scopus Citations

Abstract

A newly developed in situ non-intrusive optical (NIO) approach has been developed to survey various types of heliostat optical errors for a concentrating solar power (CSP) tower plant. To measure mirror surface slope error, facet canting error, and heliostat tracking error at a sub-milliradian accuracy, NIO requires several reflection images scanned over each individual heliostat. For a utility-scale plant that typically includes more than 10,000 heliostats, an unmanned aerial system (UAS) is crucial for efficient implementation of the NIO method. In this paper, we develop a flight path generation/optimization algorithm to plan more efficient UAS paths to collect NIO data over a utility-scale heliostat field. The algorithm considers NIO data requirements, all potential constraints, optimization within each subfield, and operational flexibility. Case studies are presented to illustrate the feasibility and robustness of the developed flight path algorithm. The path planning algorithm may also find applications elsewhere, such as drone-driven imaging under extreme conditions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)784-801
Number of pages18
JournalSolar Energy
Volume225
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 International Solar Energy Society

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-79246

Keywords

  • Concentrating solar power
  • Heliostat optical errors
  • Unmanned aerial system

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