The department “Qualification of Concentrated Solar Systems” at the DLR Institute of Solar Research comprises the development and application of measurement methods and evaluation procedures of components, collector systems or complete solar fields. Based on the analyses, options for the optimization of concentrated solar thermal plants are identified and implemented.

The quality of CSP plant systems and their components are decisive for high efficiencies and cost reductions. Due to its extensive experience in the field of qualification, DLR’s Institute of Solar Research is one of the pioneers in the development of international quality standards for CSP components and systems. The Institute offers component manufacturers and plant operators customized services for the measurement and the evaluation of their systems and components.
 Reflectivity Measurement of a Parabolic Trough Collector at the Plataforma Solar de Almería
zum Bild Reflectivity Measurement of a Parabolic Trough Collector at the Plataforma Solar de Almería

The topics of the department include:

  • development of new measurement methods, standards and guidelines
  • efficiency measurements and quality control
  • durability analysis
  • optimization of installation and control of operation
  • formation of skilled workers, especially in the MENA region
  • energy meteorology for CSP

The work is carried out at the QUARZ® Qualification Center in Cologne and at the largest European test center for CSP, the Plataforma Solar de Almería

Working Group 'Components'

This working group concentrates on the development of new measurement methods and quality criteria for the qualification and optimization of components and collectors in solar thermal power plants. The measurement methods are tailored to suit industry needs and are optimized with regard to the comparison of components and the effects on the overall efficiency of solar plants.

The analysis includes components such as mirrors, receivers, collector structures, tracking systems and their cumulative effects in the solar collector.
For this purpose optical characteristics like reflectance or absorptivity, geometrical characteristics like contour and tracking accuracy and mechanical characteristics like torsional rigidity and thermal losses are taken into account.

At the DLR QUARZ® Test and Qualification Center for Concentrating Solar Power Technologies established measurement procedures are offered in outdoor and indoor test benches in Cologne and at the Plataforma Solar in Almeria. In addition, detailed analysis is performed by the use of modeling and simulation. Support and advice concerning optimization of solar collectors is offered.

Working Group 'Systems'

 Thermorec Test Bench at the QUARZ-Center
zum Bild Thermorec Test Bench at the QUARZ-Center
 Photogrammetrical measurement of a heliostat
zum Bild Photogrammetrical measurement of a heliostat
 Natural weathering test bench for mirror testing
zum Bild Natural weathering test bench for mirror testing
This working group focuses on the development and application of field measurement techniques in order to evaluate and optimize the quality of collectors and solar fields.This includes the optical qualification of solar and heliostat fields or its subunits and the thermal qualification, for example, of receiver systems for solar tower plants.

Additionally, the working group deals with topics in the framework of energy meteorology  as e.g. the measurement and analysis of direct solar and circumsolar irradiance, atmospheric extinction, soiling of the optical system and cloud detection.

The activity of this group is rounded off by on site support for the optimization of solar thermal power plants with different measurement techniques and the specific instruction and training for skilled workers.
Applied methods are photogrammetry, deflectometry, flux density and infrared measurements, meteorological measurement techniques, image processing and supporting modeling and simulation (see also here).

Working Group 'Component Durability'

This working group aims at the determination of the durability of materials or components used in solar thermal plants. At the current stage the group focuses on reflectors and absorbers, the most important components of the concentrated solar plants.

For this purpose models are developed in order to describe and evaluate the degradation mechanism and perform the analysis by natural and accelerated aging. In the aging laboratory at PSA, which is operated jointly with our partner CIEMAT, different high temperature furnaces, climatic chambers and analysis techniques and instruments are available. Outdoor test benches for the natural weathering are available at different sites and permit a long-term exposure and analysis of materials in different climatic conditions




Dr.-Ing. Peter Heller
German Aerospace Center

Institute of Solar Research

Tel: +34 950 362817

Fax: +34 950 365313

E-Mail: Peter.Heller@dlr.de
URL for this article