EME 812
Utility Solar Power and Concentration

Summary and Activities


Summary and Activities

In this lesson, we looked at the types, design, and components of the Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems - parabolic trough, solar power tower, and parabolic dish. All of these types of CSP systems essentially differ in the way how they collect and concentrate light, and how the thermal energy is transferred. There is not as much difference in the final application (with some exceptions of course), as the output energy is primarily used to produce steam and run a turbine for electricity generation. The second half of this lesson reviewed the power converion cycles that accomplish that task. Based on this lesson, you should have a clear idea on the principle of operation of each of those types of systems and should be able to explain and compare the key specifications of CSP plants. Certainly, planning of a large-scale CSP plant is a complex task, which includes not only the technical principles of energy concentration and conversion. The major decisions are also made regarding the climate setting, solar resource, policy, and cost. Those considerations involved in strategic planning of CSP projects will be addressed further in Lesson 8.

The thermodynamic power conversion cycles used to convert heat into mechanical energy (and eventually electric power) are not novel technologies. Most of those cycles were technologically developed through 20th century and were widely applied in traditional fossil fuel fired plants. However, integration of those systems in solar CSP power plants may require some adjustments to match both system parameters. Rankine cycle has been most applicable to solar power plants to date as it operates in the lowest temperature range and therefore requires the lower concentration ratios. Stirling and Brayton cycles require higher temperature range and are suitable for higher concentration ratios, like those in central receiver systems. This lesson gives you a few examples of practical implementation of power conversion cycles in existing solar facilities.

Due for Lesson 7
Type Description/Instructions Deadline
Readings Complete all necessary reading assigned in this lesson. --
Reading Quiz
  • 14 questions testing basics of CSP systems and power conversion cycles 
  • 2 attempts / average score
  • no time limit
  • access Lesson 7 Quiz in Canvas
Sunday night

Comparative Table

1. Search and compile information on the key CSP technologies:

  • Parabolic troughs
  • Power tower
  • Stirling dish

 You can use the materials given in Lesson 7 and/or search other resources.

2. Identify several key metrics to compare those systems. These should include operational parameters (e.g. concentration ratios, efficiency, output), compatible power conversion cycles (e.g. Rankine, Brayton etc.), and cost metrics (e.g. LCOE etc.)

3. Create a summary table to classify the information you collected by those metrics. This will be the main outcome of your work.

4. Cite sources for the information included in your table.

Wednesday night


Batton, W., Organic Rankine Cycle Engines for Solar Power, Solar 2000, Madison WI. URL: http://organicrankine.com/orc_documents/theory/21036.pdf

Gramoll, K., Multimedia Engineering Thermodynamics, Ch. 10 Rankine Cycle, eCourses, Accessed 2015. URL: http://www.ecourses.ou.edu/cgi-bin/ebook.cgi?doc=&topic=th&chap_sec=10.0

Duffie, J.A. and Beckman, W.A., Solar Engineering of Thermal Processes, Wiley 2013

Stine, W.B. and Harrigan, R.W., Power from the Sun, (online book), 2001.