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Performance Assessment and Improvement of Central Receivers Used for Solar Thermal Plants

Albarbar, Alhussein and Arar, Abdullah (2019) Performance Assessment and Improvement of Central Receivers Used for Solar Thermal Plants. Energies, 12 (16). p. 3079.

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Abstract

In this work, the energy status and supply plans of Saudi Arabia are discussed with a focus on concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies. Subsequently, optimal designs for a 20 MWe solar power plant external receiver, combined with a 15 h thermal energy storage unit, operating under the weather conditions of Neom City, located in northeast Saudi Arabia, is proposed. The effects of receiver tube diameters, tube thicknesses, tube thermal conductivity and receiver’s performance are studied in detail and compared to those used in a well know operational CSP plant. Results show that a smaller tube diameter and thickness give higher receiver thermal efficiency but increase the annual cost of pumping energy. However, that increment in cost is negligible compared to the total energy gained. Furthermore, the aspect ratio is investigated and it was found that a higher aspect ratio gives a higher thermal efficiency. The thermal efficiency of the optimised receiver was increased by about 1% more than the reference plant. In addition, the new design decreases the total estimated cost of tube material by approximately 43%. It is anticipated that the reported results could pave the path for more efficient solar thermal power plants.

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