CAS-T – Software Development for Solar Tower Plant Design and Optimization

Duration: 01/2020 - 06/2021
Contracting Authority/ Sponsors: China Power Engineering Consulting Group; Northwest Electric Power Design Institute CO., LTD. (NWEPDI)
Project Focus:  
HaiXi 50MW Solar Tower plant
HaiXi 50MW Solar Tower plant, where NWEPDI acts as the plant designer.
Hami 50MW Solar Tower project
Hami 50MW Solar Tower project, where NWEPDI acts as EPC subcontractor.

Concentrating Solar Thermal Power (CSP) technology can provide dispatchable power at competitive cost in regions with high direct solar irradiance. In the scope of the CAS-T project, Fraunhofer ISE and NWEPDI are developing a software for the design, simulation and optimization of CSP Solar Tower plants.


As one of the first and largest institutes to develop and design CSP technology in China, NWEPDI brings experience both regarding different CSP technologies and regarding different phases of a commercial CSP project. In this scope, the tools in the software package can be used to carry out multiple tasks along these various project phases:

  • Industrial planning
  • Feasibility studies for different sites and plant sizes
  • Design and detailed engineering
  • Commissioning and operation

The focus of Fraunhofer ISE is on the heliostat field, receiver and storage modules of the plant – Concentrator, Absorber and Storage for Towers (CAS-T).

The tool will comprise state-of-the-art design/layout methodologies, ray tracing for detailed optical analysis and thermo-hydraulic system simulation for transient plant behavior and annual yield assessment. The developments aim at implementing tools with different levels of detail, appropriate for the various phases of a CSP project: fast routines for feasibility studies and highly accurate/detailed tools for the design phase. Eventually, the simulation tools will be used to create a Digital Twin of the Solar Tower plant.

Having designed more than half of the large-scale CSP plants built in China (5 out of 8) and having finished more than 70 CSP consulting projects, NWEPDI has a lot of experience with the Chinese CSP market and its players. Not least NWEPDI’s participation in standardization activities and their large number of patents on CSP technology will foster the market penetration and application of the joint software development. Thus, the collaborative effort between Fraunhofer ISE and NWEPDI is expected to have a strong impact on the Chinese and international CSP community and industry.