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Solar Thermal Power Systems

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 August 2024 | Viewed by 21693

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre, Teesside University, Middlesbrough TS2 1DJ, UK
Interests: renewable energy; carbon capture and storage; concentrating solar power; biomass and waste; carbon; climate and risk
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing, Cranfield University, Cranfield MK43 0AL, UK
Interests: solar collectors; industrial process heat; mirror durability; soiling and cleaning; solar desalination

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Guest Editor
School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing, Cranfield University, Cranfield MK43 0AL, UK
Interests: solar thermal systems; solar receivers; thermal storage; thermodynamic; solar field design

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Increasing the share of intermittent renewable energy resources requires cost-effective and reliable energy generation to balance the production and demand for electricity to stabilise the grid. Normally, this is achieved through the use of other forms of flexible, dispatchable power, e.g., from fossil-fuel fired plants.

Integrated solar thermal power systems with storage options can be used to improve dispatchability, reduce carbon emissions, and enhance distributed electricity generation and lower the cost compared to current state-of-the art-technologies. Solar thermal systems can also be used to generate industrial process heat beyond electricity generation, such as food processing, space heating and cooling, water desalination, and water purification/treatment. Current solar thermal technology is limited in efficiency because thermal storage fluids are limited to temperatures of 500-600°C. Advancements have been made to increase the efficiency of the plant by raising the temperature of the heat transfer fluids, including gas, liquid or solid particles, and there are several pathways demonstrating promise for commercialisation, but these routes face significant technological and economic barriers.

In light of the above, Sustainability is publishing a Special Issue on “Solar Thermal Power Systems”. Theoretical calculations, experimental research, numerical simulation, and engineering applications related to solar energy and heat systems are welcome.

This Special Issue will comprise a selection of papers addressing the following topics:

  • New collector designs and solar field innovations;
  • Innovative receiver systems;
  • Advanced thermal storage options;
  • Properties and thermochemistry of new heat transfer fluids;
  • Power block subsystems;
  • Innovative cooling technologies;
  • Grid enhanced storage systems;
  • Routes for lowering solar energy costs;
  • Industrial thermal needs through solar energy;
  • Solar aided (hybrid) power systems;
  • Durability of plant components;
  • Operational and maintenance strategies;
  • Advanced solar cycles—ORC, supercritical carbon dioxide;
  • Small scale systems, including Stirling engines.

Dr. Kumar Patchigolla
Prof. Chris Sansom
Dr. Peter Turner
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Solar thermal power
  • Heat transfer fluids
  • Solar field innovations
  • Cooling technologies
  • Cleaning solutions
  • Solar applications
  • Energy storage

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

24 pages, 5279 KiB  
Article
Alternatives to Improve Performance and Operation of a Hybrid Solar Thermal Power Plant Using Hybrid Closed Brayton Cycle
by Faustino Moreno-Gamboa, Ana Escudero-Atehortua and César Nieto-Londoño
Sustainability 2022, 14(15), 9479; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14159479 - 2 Aug 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1629
Abstract
Hybrid solar thermal power plants using the Brayton cycle are currently of great interest as they have proven to be technically feasible. This study evaluates mechanisms to reduce fuel consumption and increase the power generated, improving plant efficiency. An energy and exergy model [...] Read more.
Hybrid solar thermal power plants using the Brayton cycle are currently of great interest as they have proven to be technically feasible. This study evaluates mechanisms to reduce fuel consumption and increase the power generated, improving plant efficiency. An energy and exergy model for the hybrid solar plant is developed using an estimation model for the solar resource to determine the plant operation under specific environmental conditions. The effect of using different working fluids in the Brayton cycle, such as air, and helium in transcritical conditions and carbon dioxide in subcritical and supercritical conditions, is evaluated. Additionally, the plant’s exergy destruction and exergy efficiency are evaluated. In those, it can be highlighted that the helium cycle in the same operating conditions compared to other working fluids can increase the power by 160%, increasing fuel consumption by more than 390%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Solar Thermal Power Systems)
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19 pages, 2617 KiB  
Article
Thermodynamic Performance and Water Consumption of Hybrid Cooling System Configurations for Concentrated Solar Power Plants
by Faisal Asfand, Patricia Palenzuela, Lidia Roca, Adèle Caron, Charles-André Lemarié, Jon Gillard, Peter Turner and Kumar Patchigolla
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4739; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114739 - 10 Jun 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3281
Abstract
The use of wet cooling in Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants tends to be an unfavourable option in regions where water is scarce due to the high water requirements of the method. Dry-cooling systems allow a water consumption reduction of up to 80% [...] Read more.
The use of wet cooling in Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants tends to be an unfavourable option in regions where water is scarce due to the high water requirements of the method. Dry-cooling systems allow a water consumption reduction of up to 80% but at the expense of lower electricity production. A hybrid cooling system (the combination of dry and wet cooling) offers the advantages of each process in terms of lower water consumption and higher electricity production. A model of a CSP plant which integrates a hybrid cooling system has been implemented in Thermoflex software. The water consumption and the net power generation have been evaluated for different configurations of the hybrid cooling system: series, parallel, series-parallel and parallel-series. It was found that the most favourable configuration in terms of water saving was series-parallel, in which a water reduction of up to 50% is possible compared to the only-wet cooling option, whereas an increase of 2.5% in the power generation is possible compared to the only-dry cooling option. The parallel configuration was the best in terms of power generation with an increase of 3.2% when compared with the only-dry cooling option, and a reduction of 30% water consumption compared to the only-wet cooling option. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Solar Thermal Power Systems)
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15 pages, 6997 KiB  
Article
Thermal Evaluation of a Double-Pass Unglazed Solar Air Heater with Perforated Plate and Wire Mesh Layers
by Afaq Jasim Mahmood
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3619; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093619 - 30 Apr 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2538
Abstract
In this study, an experimental outdoor investigation of the thermal efficiency and outlet air temperature was conducted on an unglazed, double-pass, solar air heater with a perforated absorber plate and packing wire mesh layers as a supplemental absorbent area. This was done to [...] Read more.
In this study, an experimental outdoor investigation of the thermal efficiency and outlet air temperature was conducted on an unglazed, double-pass, solar air heater with a perforated absorber plate and packing wire mesh layers as a supplemental absorbent area. This was done to observe their effects on the thermal performance of the solar air heater. The double-pass collector was constructed with a bed height of 0.05 m, and a collection area of 1.5 m2. The height of the upper channel was fixed at 0.015 m to improve the thermal efficiency, and the outlet temperature at air flow rates between 0.003 and 0.018 kg/s. The collector was mounted with a slope of 42° facing south, to maximize the intensity of solar irradiance during winter. The effects of the air flow rate, ambient temperature, inlet temperature, outlet temperature, and solar intensity were experimentally investigated. The results showed that thermal efficiency could be improved by increasing the air flow rate, where the highest thermal efficiency achieved was 86% at 0.018 kg/s. However, the temperature difference was increased to a maximum value of 38.6 °C, when the air flow rate was decreased to 0.003 kg/s. Furthermore, the results demonstrated a significant improvement in the thermal efficiency and outlet temperature; and when compared with previous research, the experimental results and the predictions for the outlet temperature using the theoretical model agreed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Solar Thermal Power Systems)
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22 pages, 8834 KiB  
Article
Numerical Simulation and Design of Multi-Tower Concentrated Solar Power Fields
by Zaharaddeen Ali Hussaini, Peter King and Chris Sansom
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2402; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062402 - 19 Mar 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 4722
Abstract
In power tower systems, the heliostat field is one of the essential subsystems in the plant due to its significant contribution to the plant’s overall power losses and total plant investment cost. The design and optimization of the heliostat field is hence an [...] Read more.
In power tower systems, the heliostat field is one of the essential subsystems in the plant due to its significant contribution to the plant’s overall power losses and total plant investment cost. The design and optimization of the heliostat field is hence an active area of research, with new field improvement processes and configurations being actively investigated. In this paper, a different configuration of a multi-tower field is explored. This involves adding an auxiliary tower to the field of a conventional power tower Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) system. The choice of the position of the auxiliary tower was based on the region in the field which has the least effective reflecting heliostats. The multi-tower configuration was initially applied to a 50 MWth conventional field in the case study region of Nigeria. The results from an optimized field show a marked increase in the annual thermal energy output and mean annual efficiency of the field. The biggest improvement in the optical efficiency loss factors be seen from the cosine, which records an improvement of 6.63%. Due to the size of the field, a minimal increment of 3020 MWht in the Levelized Cost of Heat (LCOH) was, however, recorded. In much larger fields, though, a higher number of weaker heliostats were witnessed in the field. The auxiliary tower in the field provides an alternate aim point for the weaker heliostat, thereby considerably cutting down on some optical losses, which in turn gives rise to higher energy output. At 400 MWth, the multi-tower field configuration provides a lower LCOH than the single conventional power tower field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Solar Thermal Power Systems)
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20 pages, 18008 KiB  
Article
Photogrammetry for Concentrating Solar Collector Form Measurement, Validated Using a Coordinate Measuring Machine
by Peter King, Christopher Sansom and Paul Comley
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 196; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010196 - 25 Dec 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2881
Abstract
Concentrating solar power systems currently have a high capital cost when compared with other energy generating systems. The solar energy is captured in the form of thermal energy rather than direct electrical, which is attractive as thermal energy is more straightforward and currently [...] Read more.
Concentrating solar power systems currently have a high capital cost when compared with other energy generating systems. The solar energy is captured in the form of thermal energy rather than direct electrical, which is attractive as thermal energy is more straightforward and currently more cost-effective to store in the amounts required for extended plant operation. It is also used directly as industrial process heat, including desalination and water purification. For the technology to compete against other generating systems, it is crucial to reduce the electrical energy cost to less than $0.10 per kilowatt-hour. One of the significant capital costs is the solar field, which contains the concentrators. Novel constructions and improvements to the durability and lifetime of the concentrators are required to reduce the cost of this field. This paper describes the development and validation of an inexpensive, highly portable photogrammetry technique, which has been used to measure the shape of large mirror facets for solar collectors. The accuracy of the technique has been validated to show a whole surface measurement capability of better than 100 m using a large coordinate measuring machine. Qualification of facets of the MATS plant was performed during its installation phase, giving results of the shape, slope and intercept errors over each facet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Solar Thermal Power Systems)
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15 pages, 3666 KiB  
Article
Numerical Study of a New Solar Vacuum Tube Integrating with Phase Change Material
by Juan Shi, Hua Xue, Zhenqian Chen and Li Sun
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 6960; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11246960 - 6 Dec 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2469
Abstract
In this work, a new solar vacuum tube (SVT) integrating with phase change material is introduced and numerically investigated. The mathematical model and the numerical solution of phase change heat transfer is introduced. The heat transfer of the solar energy collection system during [...] Read more.
In this work, a new solar vacuum tube (SVT) integrating with phase change material is introduced and numerically investigated. The mathematical model and the numerical solution of phase change heat transfer is introduced. The heat transfer of the solar energy collection system during the energy storage process is simulated. Solid-liquid phase change characteristics of the SVT with paraffin inside is analyzed. Optimization analysis of fin structure parameters (fin thickness and fin spacing) in the vacuum tube is conducted. The results showed that the metal fin has a great effect on the phase change heat transfer of paraffin in SVTs. The closer the paraffin is to the fins, the more uniform the paraffin temperature is and the sooner the paraffin melts. As the fin thickness increases and the spacing between the fins decreases, the melting time of the paraffin decreases. Meanwhile, the effect of fin spacing on the overall heat transfer performance of the phase change energy storage tube is larger than the effect of the fin thickness. When the fin thickness is 2 mm, the melting time of paraffin with a fin spacing of 80 mm is 21,000 s, which is almost three times of that with a fin spacing of 10 mm (7400 s). Therefore, decreasing fin spacing is an effective way of enhancing phase change heat transfer. When the total fin volume is constant, a SVT with small fin space and small fin thickness performs better in heat transfer performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Solar Thermal Power Systems)
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20 pages, 7491 KiB  
Article
A Hybrid Model Based on Principal Component Analysis, Wavelet Transform, and Extreme Learning Machine Optimized by Bat Algorithm for Daily Solar Radiation Forecasting
by Xing Zhang and Zhuoqun Wei
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4138; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11154138 - 31 Jul 2019
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 2961
Abstract
Precise solar radiation forecasting is of great importance for solar energy utilization and its integration into the grid, but because of the daily solar radiation’s intrinsic non-stationary and nonlinearity, which is influenced by a lot of elements, single predicting models may have difficulty [...] Read more.
Precise solar radiation forecasting is of great importance for solar energy utilization and its integration into the grid, but because of the daily solar radiation’s intrinsic non-stationary and nonlinearity, which is influenced by a lot of elements, single predicting models may have difficulty obtaining results with high accuracy. Therefore, this paper innovatively puts forward an original hybrid model that predicts solar radiation through extreme learning machine (ELM) optimized by the bat algorithm (BA) based on wavelet transform (WT) and principal component analysis (PCA). First, choose the meteorological variables on the basis of Pearson coefficient test, and WT will decompose historical solar radiation into two time series, which are de-noised signal and noise signal. In the approximate series, the lag phase of historical radiation is obtained by partial autocorrelation function (PACF). After that, use PCA to reduce the dimensions of the influencing factors, including meteorological variables and historical radiation. Finally, ELM is established to predict daily solar radiation, whose input weight and deviation thresholds gained optimization by BA, thus it is called BA-ELM henceforth. In view of the four distinct solar radiation series obtained by NASA, the empirical simulation explained the hybrid model’s validity and effectiveness compared to other primary methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Solar Thermal Power Systems)
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