Solar Field Optical Characterization at Stillwater Geothermal/Solar Hybrid Plant Paper No. SOL-16-1342

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Concentrating solar power (CSP) can provide additional thermal energy to boost geothermal plant power generation. For a newly constructed solar field at a geothermal power plant site, it is critical to properly characterize its performance so that the prediction of thermal power generation can be derived to develop an optimum operating strategy for a hybrid system. In the past, laboratory characterization of a solar collector has often extended into the solar field performance model and has been used to predict the actual solar field performance, disregarding realistic impacting factors. In this work, an extensive measurement on mirror slope error and receiver position error has been performed in the field by using the optical characterization tool called distant observer (DO). Combining a solar reflectance sampling procedure, a newly developed solar characterization program called firstoptic and public software for annual performance modeling called system advisor model (SAM), a comprehensive solar field optical characterization has been conducted, thus allowing for an informed prediction of solar field annual performance. The paper illustrates this detailed solar field optical characterization procedure and demonstrates how the results help to quantify an appropriate tracking-correction strategy to improve solar field performance. In particular, it is found that an appropriate tracking-offset algorithm can improve the solar field performance by about 15%. The work here provides a valuable reference for the growing CSP industry.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number031002
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Solar Energy Engineering, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 by ASME.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-67541


  • concentrating solar power
  • geothermal energy
  • hybrid system
  • optical characterization
  • optical error
  • parabolic trough


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