Tuesday, 30 August 2016
Scientists from DLR’s Institute of Solar Research and the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) are developing a heliostat type for Morocco to be produced locally. The main goal of the project is to develop the competence of the Moroccan industry to produce components for solar thermal power plants, specifically heliostats.
Due to their cost Heliostats are the most crucial factor in a solar power plant
About 40 per cent of the total costs of a solar tower power plant correspond to the heliostats. Therefore, the investment, as well as the operation & maintenance cost of the heliostats, are key parameters during the design of a power plant.
The conditions for an economically feasible manufacturing of heliostat parts such as the mirror support structure, drive mechanism, electronic boards and control software are principally given in Morocco. What is still missing in the country is industrial experience and knowledge about the quality required in this special area as well as trained personnel.
Local companies will produce the first prototypes
In the first phase of the project, from October to December 2015, the scientists worked on the conceptual design and made the first contacts with the Moroccan companies willing to participate in the project: “The first reactions of the contacted companies were very promising. They seem to be very motivated to develop, build and operate renewable energies technologies locally. This engagement is for us, in such a complex project, very important. The next step is to select Moroccan consortia for the construction of the prototypes.” commented DLR’s project manager Daniel Benitez.
In order to find the best suited heliostat, the scientists are evaluating several designs. At this moment, the preferred option is the so-called “lay down heliostat” with a light-weight structure especially suited for the operation under desert conditions. This promising heliostat is a development of DLR’s Solar Research Institute.
In order to reduce the wind loads and therefore allow a lighter structure, the “lay down heliostat” will be positioned during high wind speed, such as sand storms, with the mirror surface facing the ground. This stow position will also be adopted during night, having the positive effect that less dirt particles will adhere to the mirror surface, saving costs for water and mirror cleaning.
The second phase of the project started in January 2016 and will last for over two years. The detailed heliostat design will be engineered; local industrial participants will be selected. Engineers and technicians should firstly join training sessions at MASEN’s Solar Platform in Ouarzazate. Through this, Moroccan skilled personnel will learn which quality criteria are especially important to be considered. With the experience to be gathered by the partners, the developers expect to collect relevant data in order to further improve the design and its functionality. The heliostat qualification will be done at the end of the project for local conditions at MASEN’s Solar Platform in Ouarzazate.
This project is funded on the German side by the Federal Foreign Office.