Line focus systems, like parabolic troughs and linear Fresnel systems, are widely installed and commercially used for thermal and electrical energy production world-wide. Their economic feasibility can be further improved through, for example, improvements in solar field control and operation strategies. A possibility for achieving such improvements is by increasing the amount of the collected solar energy through the reduction of defocusing events during plant operation. Furthermore, temperature drops and pressure fluctuations in the pipe network and in the actuators play a critical role.
Collector fields of existing solar power plants offer only very limited benefit for the development of new control and operation strategies. The operators of commercial power plants are often reluctant to test new strategies during the normal operation in order to not affect the planned power output and energy yield of the plant. In these cases, the Virtual Solar Field (VSF) offers unique possibilities to test new procedures to improve the plant yield before their implementation in commercial power plants.
The control strategy developed for the VSF is characterized by its robustness. It can be adapted easily for individual purposes through simple adjustments of the input parameters.
During the past years, DLR’s institute of solar research created a detailed solar field model using VSF. This model is used as a virtual test platform with the following most important features:
The presented specifications allow the simulation of a realistic representation of a whole parabolic trough field. As a result of a computationally efficient implementation, computational times of 1/100 of real-time are reached. The tool is conceived as a computation core where interfaces with many other programs are possible to establish. The department of line-focus systems uses the program for its research activities in the field of control and operation of oil- and salt-based trough systems.