Monday, 11 January 2016
Carbon emission reduction is essential to hampering anthropogenic climate change. While there are several methods to broach carbon reductions, the National Energy with Weather System (NEWS) model focuses on limiting electrical generation emissions by way of a national high-voltage direct-current transmission that takes advantage of the strengths of different regions in terms of variable sources of energy. Specifically, we focus upon modeling concentrating solar power (CSP) as another source to contribute to the electric grid. Power tower solar fields are optimized taking into account high spatial and temporal resolution, 13km and hourly, numerical weather prediction model data gathered by NOAA from the years of 2006-2008. Importantly, the optimization of these CSP power plants takes into consideration factors that decrease the optical efficiency of the heliostats reflecting solar irradiance. For example, cosine efficiency, atmospheric attenuation, and shadowing are shown here; however, it should be noted that they are not the only limiting factors. While solar photovoltaic plants can be combined for similar efficiency to the power tower and currently at a lower cost, they do not have a cost-effective capability to provide electricity when there are interruptions in solar irradiance. Power towers rely on a heat transfer fluid, which can be used for thermal storage changing the cost efficiency of this energy source. Thermal storage increases the electric stability that many other renewable energy sources lack, and thus, the ability to choose between direct electric conversion and thermal storage is discussed. The figure shown below is a test model of a CSP plant made up of heliostats. The colors show the optical efficiency of each heliostat at a single time of the day.
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