Atmospheric Transmittance Model Validation for CSP Tower Plants

Manajit Sengupta, Natalie Hanrieder, Abdellatif Ghennioui, Ahmed Merrouni, Stefan Wilbert, Florian Wiesinger, Luis Zarzalejo, Alexander Schade

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13 Scopus Citations


In yield analysis and plant design of concentrated solar power (CSP) tower plants, increased uncertainties are caused by the mostly unknown solar attenuation between the concentrating heliostat field and the receiver on top of the tower. This attenuation is caused mainly by aerosol particles and water vapor. Various on-site measurement methods of atmospheric extinction in solar tower plants have been developed during recent years, but during resource assessment for distinct tower plant projects in-situ measurement data sets are typically not available. To overcome this lack of information, a transmittance model (TM) has been previously developed and enhanced by the authors to derive the atmospheric transmittance between a heliostat and receiver on the basis of common direct normal irradiance (DNI), temperature, relative humidity and barometric pressure measurements. Previously the model was only tested at one site. In this manuscript, the enhanced TM is validated for three sites (CIEMAT's Plataforma Solar de Almería (PSA), Spain, Missour, Morocco (MIS) and Zagora, Morocco (ZAG)). As the strongest assumption in the TM is the vertical aerosol particle profile, three different approaches to describe the vertical profile are tested in the TM. One approach assumes a homogeneous aerosol profile up to 1 kilometer above ground, the second approach is based on LIVAS profiles obtained from Lidar measurements and the third approach uses boundary layer height (BLH) data of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). The derived broadband transmittance for a slant range of 1 km (T1km) time series is compared with a reference data set of on-site absorption- and broadband corrected T1km derived from meteorological optical range (MOR) measurements for the temporal period between January 2015 and November 2017. The absolute mean bias error (MBE) for the TM's T1km using the three different aerosol profiles lies below 5% except for ZAG and one profile assumption. The MBE is close to 0 for PSA and MIS assuming a homogeneous extinction coefficient up to 1 km above ground. The root mean square error (RMSE) is around 5-6% for PSA and ZAG and around 7-8% for MIS. The TM performs better during summer months, during which more data points have been evaluated. This validation proves the applicability of the transmittance model for resource assessment at various sites. It enables the identification of a clear site with high T1km with a high accuracy and provides an estimation of the T1km for hazy sites. Thus it facilitates the decision if on-site extinction measurements are necessary. The model can be used to improve the accuracy of yield analysis of tower plants and allows the site adapted design.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1083
Number of pages18
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5D00-74031


  • Atmospheric extinction
  • Attenuation loss
  • Central receiver
  • CSP
  • Solar resource assessment
  • Transmittance model


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