By Nick Gilbert
Sun to Market Solutions (S2M), a provider of IT solutions, consulting and engineering services for solar electricity power plants, has collaborated with researchers at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) to develop an advanced design for the central receiver component of a solar thermal energy plant.
A central receiver forms the core of a solar thermal energy plant. The Energy Systems Engineering (ISE) Research Group at UC3M partnered with S2M for this development. In this type of plant, thousands of heliostats are oriented towards the receiver. The solar energy from these heliostats is concentrated on the receiver.
The researchers stated that for the same energy output, the novel concept enabled the core part to function at lower temperatures while allowing the use of more feasible and cost-effective materials. They studied the operational limits and the plant function, and roadmaps and prototype tests for a novel solar energy plant having a central receiver for storage. This led to the development of a new energy recovery system for pumping thermal fluid to the central receiver. ISE and S2M have patented this technology. The novel system enables energy recovery of more than 70% leading to better plant performance. S2M and UC3M will be collaborating in a laboratory to develop and test prototype plants.
Torresol Energy’s Gemasolar is the first solar thermal energy plant that has a thermal storage and a central receiver. It can function for around 7,000 h in a year during night and day. A new project based on this technology is being constructed in the USA due to long production hours and economy.