New developments to raise efficiency of concentrating solar thermal technologies (DETECSOL)

Participants: CIEMAT-PSA
Financed by: Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Programa RETOS. Convocatoria 2014)
Reference: ENE2014-56079-R
Duration: January 2015 – December 2017
The development and comercial deployment of concentrating solar thermal technologies, has shown exceptional growth in recent years. In 2006 there were only 354 MWe from solar thermal power plants in comercial operation; in 2009, it not reached 500 MWe and currently are exceded 3,000 MWe worldwide, of which 2,300 MWe can  be found only in Spain.
Although there is an important commercial development, it is necessary to reduce investment and operational costs and this is  required  the need both to optimize the developments that are currently in service and as well as seek new innovative concepts that include new designs concentrators, receivers, heat transfer fluids, and storage concepts of solar thermal energy.
These needs have motivated the request of this research project which involving activities related to solar concentrator analysis and development (primary and / or secondary), solar receivers, heat transfer fluids with their corresponding heat transfer circuit, and the thermal energy storage system.
The general objectives of this proposal are the development of new methodologies and / or components that improve the energy efficiency of systems that use concentrating solar thermal technologies for the production of thermal energy, and its subsequent use in a thermodynamic power cycle, or in industrial applications:

  • Testing methods, designs and / or developments for reflectors, receivers and alternative heat transfer fluids suitable for concentrating line-focus solar thermal technology, which allow  reaching   temperatures of the heat transfer fluid up to 500 ° C (parabolic troughs or linear Fresnel reflectors).
  • Testing methods, designs and / or developments for reflectors, receivers and alternative heat transfer fluids suitable for concentrating point-focus solar thermal technology, which allow reaching   temperatures of the heat transfer fluid at or above 500°C (central receiver systems).
  • Thermal energy storage for solar power plant configurations using alternative heat transfer fluids (storage material, configurations and system design, size optimization and standardization of the testing methods to validate the performance of hydraulic components in contact with existing or new storage media).

Selected publications:

  • García-Segura A, Fernández-García A, Ariza MJ, Sutter F, Valenzuela L. Durability studies of solar reflectors: A review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 2016, 62:453-467.
  • Serrano-Aguilera JJ, Valenzuela L, Fernández-Reche J. Inverse Monte Carlo Ray-Tracing Method (IMCRT) applied to line-focus reflectors. Solar Energy 2016, 124:184-197.
  • Bayón R, Coco S, Barcenilla M, Espinet P, Imbuluzqueta G, Hidalgo J, Rojas E. Feasibility of storing latent heat with liquid crystals. Proof of concept at lab scale. Applied Sciences 2016, 6(5):121.