Exergetic analysis of parabolic trough solar thermal power plants

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Begoña Ruperez1, Fontina Petrakopoulou2 and Guillermo San Miguel1, (1)Technical University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain, (2)National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Marousi Athens, Greece
A very important component to achieve sustainable development in the energy sector is the improvement of energy efficiency of widely applied thermodynamic processes. Evaluation and optimization methods of energy processes play a crucial role in fulfilling this goal. A suitable method for the evaluation and optimization of energy conversion systems has been proven to be the exergetic analysis.

In this work, two parabolic trough solar thermal power plants are simulated in detail using commercial software, and they are further analysed and compared using an exergetic analysis. The first plant uses a thermal fluid to produce the steam required in a steam generator, while the second one produces the steam directly in the solar field. The analysis involves the evaluation of the individual components of the power plants, as well as the performance evaluation of the overall structures. The main goal is to detect thermodynamic inefficiencies of the two different configurations and propose measures to minimize those.

We find that the two examined plants have similar main sources of exergy destruction: the solar field (parabolic trough solar collectors), followed by the steam generator. This reveals the importance of an optimal design of these particular components, which could reduce inefficiencies present in the system. The differences in the exergy destruction and exergetic efficiencies of individual components of the two plants are analyzed in detail based on comparable operational conditions.