SolTrace: A Ray-Tracing Code for Complex Solar Optical Systems

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


SolTrace is an optical simulation tool designed to model optical systems used in concentrating solar power (CSP) applications. The code was first written in early 2003, but has seen significant modifications and changes since its inception, including conversion from a Pascal-based software development platform to C++. SolTrace is unique in that it can model virtually any optical system utilizingthe sun as the source. It has been made available for free and as such is in use worldwide by industry, universities, and research laboratories. The fundamental design of the code is discussed, including enhancements and improvements over the earlier version. Comparisons are made with other optical modeling tools, both non-commercial and commercial in nature. Finally, modeled results are shownfor some typical CSP systems and, in one case, compared to measured optical data.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages19
StatePublished - 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5500-59163


  • concentrating solar power (CSP)
  • CSP
  • optical modeling
  • ray tracing
  • solar optics


Dive into the research topics of 'SolTrace: A Ray-Tracing Code for Complex Solar Optical Systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this