Solar Parabolic Trough

Solar Parabolic Trough

System Description
Parabolic trough technology is currently the most proven solar thermal electric technology. This is primarily due to nine large commercial-scale solar power plants, the first of which has been operating in the California Mojave Desert since 1984. These plants, which continue to operate on a daily basis, range in size from 14 to 80 MW and represent a total of 354 MW of installed electric generating capacity. Large fields of parabolic trough collectors supply the thermal energy used to produce steam for a Rankine steam turbine/generator cycle

Plant Overview
Figure 1 shows a process flow diagram that is representative of the majority of parabolic trough solar power plants in operation today. The collector field consists of a large field of single-axis tracking parabolic trough solar collectors. The solar field is modular in nature and is composed of many parallel rows of solar collectors aligned on a north-south horizontal axis. Each solar collector has a linear parabolic-shaped reflector that focuses the sun’s direct beam radiation on a linear receiver located at the focus of the parabola. The collectors track the sun from east to west during the day to ensure that the sun is continuously focused on the linear receiver. A heat transfer fluid (HTF) is heated as it circulates through the receiver and returns to a series of heat exchangers in the power block where the fluid is used to generate high-pressure superheated steam. The superheated steam is then fed to a conventional reheat steam turbine/generator to produce electricity. The spent steam from the turbine is condensed in a standard condenser and returned to the heat exchangers via condensate and feedwater pumps to be transformed back into steam. Condenser cooling is provided by mechanical draft wet cooling towers. After passing through the HTF side of the solar heat exchangers, the cooled HTF is recirculated through the solar field.
Historically, parabolic trough plants have been designed to use solar energy as the primary energy source to produce electricity. The plants can operate at full rated power using solar energy alone given sufficient solar input. During summer months, the plants typically operate for 10 to 12 hours a day at full-rated electric output. However, to date, all plants have been hybrid solar/fossil plants; this means they have a backup fossil-fired capability that can be used to supplement the solar output during periods of low solar radiation. In the system shown in Figure 1, the optional natural-gas-fired HTF heater situated in parallel with the solar field, or the optional gas steam boiler/reheater located in parallel with the solar heat exchangers, provide this capability. The fossil backup can be used to produce rated
electric output during overcast or nighttime periods. Figure 1 also shows that thermal storage is a potential option that can be added to provide dispatchability.
Integrated Solar Combined Cycle System (ISCCS)
The ISCCS is a new design concept that integrates a parabolic trough plant with a gas turbine combined-cycle plant [2,3]. The ISCCS has generated much interest because it offers an innovative way to reduce cost and improve the overall solar-to-electric efficiency. A process flow diagram for an ISCCS is shown in Figure 2. The ISCCS uses solar heat to supplement the waste heat from the gas turbine in order to augment power generation in the steam Rankine bottoming cycle. In this design, solar energy is generally used to generate additional steam and the gas turbine waste heat is used for preheat and steam superheating. Most designs have looked at increasing the steam turbine size by as much as 100%. The ISCCS design will likely be preferred over the solar Rankine plant in regions where combined cycle plants are already being built.

Coal Hybrids[FONT=Times New Roman]
In regions with good solar resources where coal plants are currently used, parabolic trough plants can be integrated into the coal plant to either reduce coal consumption or add solar peaking, much like the ISCCS configuration. Due to the higher temperature and pressure steam conditions used in modern coal plants, the solar steam may need to be admitted in the intermediate or low-pressure turbine…