Optimal Heliostat Assignment Strategy for Multiple-Receiver Systems

Michael Wagner, Megan Watkins, Shaun Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Next-generation concentrating solar power concepts currently being developed under the U.S. Department of Energy's Gen3 program include several novel heliostat field and receiver arrangements. Among these concepts are solar fields utilizing multiple receivers or several distinct receiver flux control zones, and each of which has particular power or peak flux constraints. In this paper, we present a linear program that identifies optimal heliostat-to-receiver assignment strategies for multi-receiver or multi-zone solar fields based on detailed calculations made by an optics modeling package. Two distinct problems are addressed: namely, (1) a design problem that chooses the optimal set of heliostats to include in a final layout given receiver constraints and performance, and (2) an operations problem that assigns existing heliostats to a receiver, maximizing field power output while maintaining receiver power constraints. The optimization methodology is integrated into the concentrating solar power tower modeling package SolarPILOTTM, and results are presented showing that heliostat assignment strategies can impact both initial heliostat field layout characteristics and the cost of thermal energy produced by the field. The methodology succeeds in maintaining power requirements but at the expense of producing different flux profiles on each receiver surface. Consequently, the paper also discusses additional measures that are applied to ensure that desirable flux distribution properties are maintained, reducing local flux mean-absolute-deviation values from a baseline of 17% or greater to less than 5% compared to a desired reference flux profile.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 11 Dec 2020
Event2019 International Conference on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems, SolarPACES 2019 - Daegu, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 1 Oct 20194 Oct 2019


Conference2019 International Conference on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems, SolarPACES 2019
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Institute of Physics Inc.. All rights reserved.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5700-75451


  • flux optimization
  • heliostat field
  • linear programming
  • power tower


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