Solar Energy, Vol.211, 600-612, 2020
Annual simulation of photovoltaic retrofits within existing parabolic trough concentrating solar powerplants
Solar power for electricity production comes from either photovoltaics or concentrating solar power plants. The former has seen rapid growth and expansion due to the rapid fall in global prices, while the latter has seen moderate growth due to ability to cheaply store thermal energy for later use. Hybridization, or combining photovoltaics with concentrating solar power represents a potential way for lowering cost while enabling long term storage. Over 5 GW of capacity exist worldwide using parabolic trough style technology for concentrating solar power which presents a unique option for optimization in the form of a photovoltaic retrofit. While it is possible to analyze the performance with detailed physics models, it is necessary to create a model that can handle simulating the plant level performance to fully understand the potential performance. Here, the first utility scale plant level model of a hybrid photovoltaic-concentrating solar power plant is developed. The model is applied to existing concentrating solar power plants around the world utilizing RP-3 mirrors without thermal energy storage to understand the impact on electricity production. Model results indicate that the photovoltaic retrofit can increase yearly electricity production by up to 30% for plants with solar multiples exceeding 1.5, and that increasing the fraction of solar energy reflected further increases the yield. The increased electrical production declines as the plant solar multiple is decreased. The minimum LCOE observed was $0.07/kWh for plants with larger solar multiple and fraction of solar energy reflected to the PV is 50% of the total aperture.