The Advanced Technology Centre for Renewable Energy (CTAER) has appointed Abengoa to build a unique facility in the world. It has been dubbed the “Variable Geometry Solar Plant,” devised by a professor of thermodynamics at the University of Seville, Valeriano Ruiz.
Professor Valeriano Ruiz is President of CTAER, President of Protermosolar and many other things. But if there is a title that best defines him it is “experimental physicist”, especially considering the phrase he used towards the end of January in conversation with Energías Renovables: “after so many years imagining and being unable to do, now all I imagine I can do”. He was referring to his new invention.
It has now been made public that the President of CTAER, Valeriano Ruiz, has signed a contract through which Abengoa has been awarded (after a public tender process) the contract to build the “Experimental Variable Geometry Solar Plant for Central Receiver Systems”.
More than 17% in performance
Power tower solar thermal electric plants currently operate using a heliostat field and receiver that is fixed and cannot be changed on its axis. Throughout the day, movements in the sun’s position with respect to the inclination and orientation of the heliostats give rise to energy losses that affect the plant’s performance, especially in the early hours of the morning and late afternoon. This is referred to as the cosine factor.
The breakthrough with the Variable Geometry Solar Plant lies in the mobility of its elements. It too boasts a central tower and heliostat field, but the difference is that the heliostats are fixed on movable supports: circular tracks that form concentric circles around the tower allowing the heliostats to be moved around the receiver. Therefore, when the sun is in the east the heliostats are in the west facing the tower and receiving radiation almost perpendicular to the sagittal plane. As the sun moves across the horizon, the heliostats move along their tracks to capture the direct radiation. The receiver can also turn on the shaft of the tower to follow the change in direction of the radiation reflected by the heliostats.
The result is that you get better performance. “The simulation we have performed over a full year gives us a 17% increase,” explains Valeriano Ruiz, who recalls that “the plant is designed as a pilot for testing equipment and systems not to generate electricity”.
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