In solar thermal power plants, large reflector arrays focus solar radiation onto absorbers. A heat-transfer medium (e.g. thermal oil, water/steam, molten salt or air) flows through the absorbers to withdraw the resulting heat, which can then be used to drive gas or steam turbines and produce electricity. To ensure that power can still be generated at night or during periods of cloud cover, a heat storage system is connected between the absorber and the turbine, or the solar power plant is attached to a conventional heat generator (hybrid power plant).
Challenges faced include ensuring that the solar radiation is directed onto the absorbers as effectively as possible, minimizing thermal losses, integrating exergy-efficient heat storage and keeping costs low.
Fraunhofer ISE supports the development of materials and components used in Fresnel and parabolic trough power plants, as well as solar power towers. In doing so, we use techno-economic simulation to optimize the layout of the solar arrays and the thermodynamic connection to the cyclic processes of each individual area of application. In addition to our development work, we perform experimental characterization and quality assurance, and our range of services is complemented by studies, reports and offering support with plant design.