Australia's largest concentrating photovoltaic solar plant

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Australia's largest concentrating photovoltaic solar plant

Postby stephendavion » Wed Jun 26, 2013 11:05 pm

Solar Systems, a subsidiary of Silex Systems, has completed Australia's largest concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar power station located in Mildura, north-west Victoria.

The station, which is a grid connected facility, will be used to demonstrate Solar Systems' 'Dense Array' CPV solar conversion system.

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Re: Australia's largest concentrating photovoltaic solar plant

Postby Tracker » Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:03 am

.
What is the advantage of the technology..???

Eg. If I have 1000m2 of land, then how much more power will I expect from CPV vs. Standard panels and at what cost..

Ie. If solar insolation is measured by w/m2, then how is fancy control technology improving the cost / W....

To me, it's seems a case of employing fancy tracking / concentration technology, that then demands constant maintenance... :idea:

Anyone read up on the advantages..?

Now if you are using the same system , to store excess energy in some kind of phase shift technology, that gives more constant 24hr output, then that is different.
But who wants to fund a 24/7 system that sells it's power for of peak rates..
..
.
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Re: Australia's largest concentrating photovoltaic solar plant

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:01 pm

Tracker, CSP was looking like a better than PV option for large scale generation a few years ago, but as PV prices dropped, it was able to produce electricity for a lower price, so CSP became somewhat sidelined. However, the ability to add storage and produce dispatchable power means CSP will come back as a means of producing electricity sooner or later I think.

Read a bit about it here: http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/explain ... orks-78892
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Re: Australia's largest concentrating photovoltaic solar plant

Postby Tracker » Sun Jul 07, 2013 10:57 pm

.
I had seen where a pilot plant was being built, and as they explained the technology, two thoughts came to mind.
First, the greatest benefit to be derived by any system, is for one where phase change is involved..
But... clearly you can't have phase change, because transition from liquid salt to solid is surely a massive no-no.
This then raises the question... how to you start a plant and then keep it running..
My thought is that they will be like wind turbines (kept turning 24/7) and they will consume a significant load, ensuring that the salt never turns solid.

Gordon, have you ever seen an honest appraisal of the efficiency of a serious plant..
And what happens if the salt does set (or do they ensure that it's drained before there is any danger of. It setting..

Just curious..!!!
..
.
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Re: Australia's largest concentrating photovoltaic solar plant

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Sun Jul 07, 2013 11:26 pm

I haven't looked into the fine details of the technology at all, but I would imagine that the salt becoming solid isn't really a problem, as it is only being used to store the heat, and it would be heated via a heat exchanger, with some high BP liquid being used to transfer the energy from the concentrated solar hot spot to the salt.

There's been at least one CSP plant operating in the US for many years, so clearly the technology works.
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Re: Australia's largest concentrating photovoltaic solar plant

Postby Tracker » Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:29 am

Gordon-Loomberah wrote:........ the salt becoming solid isn't really a problem, as it is only being used to store the heat, and it would be heated via a heat exchanger, with some high BP liquid being used to transfer the energy from the concentrated solar hot spot to the salt.....


Not sure that is the reality...! With the plant shown being run up, they were draining liquid salt from a pipe .. down at the working end..
That suggested to moi , that the design was more like a solar HW collector and a circulating pump..
My assumption.... if the salt cooled in the feed lines, then that will be it for the plant..
(Unless it could be dissolved by progressive washing/dissolving) ..

I would have thought that the best design would be for the thermal mass tank, containing the salt mass, was at the head of the collector.. ie -- no plumbing for molten salt... thus no chance of a plant catastrophe ..

On the thought of your comment......., what high BP liquid could you use that would "transfer heat" to solid salt.. ie.. I am thinking that molten salt would be "glowing"

Just curious...!

PS ... the reference to the plant you suggested , represents what I saw in practice... so IF it all relies on the salt to remain molten , then I fail to see how it all works, other than molten salt being a very high temperature medium , but then you lose all advantage of phase change...
I do suppose that molten salt could be drained from the working plumbing, and perhaps as depicted, (but poorly described), there is a molten reservoir that is kept as such to "prime " a cooled system...
..
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Re: Australia's largest concentrating photovoltaic solar plant

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:22 am

Yes you're correct, that particular plant does circulate the molten salt, but there is no phase change involved as a source of heat- it stays molten all the time. Presumably they have tank heaters to keep it molten during extended cloudy periods, not that they would be all that common there. There are other ways of doing it though.
I think molten Sodium metal is used as the coolant to transfer heat in some fossil fuel and perhaps nuclear power stations. You just need something stable that stays liquid in your operating temperature range, isn't too viscous, is a good thermal conductor and has a boiling point well above the max operating temperature, at the system pressure.
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Re: Australia's largest concentrating photovoltaic solar plant

Postby Tracker » Tue Jul 09, 2013 11:58 am

Gordon-Loomberah wrote:.....I think molten Sodium metal is used as the coolant to transfer heat in some fossil fuel and perhaps nuclear power stations......

Thanks for the insight..
I was going to apply for a job as a fire protection officer at the plant, but I am unsure how water and molten Sodium would go... :lol:

Still, I wonder how much more practical it would be to just have a massive tank at the FP of the system, and then use the Phase Change heat as well, and NEVER be concerned about cooling problems.

None of this overcomes the base issue of W/M2, and the cost of the technology and the reliability, but IF this technology can be used to provide Base-Load at night, from day-stored energy, then great...

But, then you would need to price energy differently, so that the value was there to have a plant, specifically intended for Off-Peak power generation.. and effectively unused during the day..
..
.
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Re: Australia's largest concentrating photovoltaic solar plant

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Tue Jul 09, 2013 12:38 pm

I think those involved in renewable energy have moved on from the old concepts of base load, off-peak etc, and now it is all dispatchable energy- ie energy when it is required, with rapid response times. Hydro in all its forms is excellent for that, as is CSP with molten salt etc thermal storage. With coal-fired power stations they had to just about give away "off-peak" energy at night because it was better (less expensive) to do that than shut down for a few hours before re-starting in the morning. It was rather more wasteful and polluting though, as you have to dump the energy somewhere if there isn't enough demand- there is only a certain amount that the boilers can be throttled back before they have to stop.
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Re: Australia's largest concentrating photovoltaic solar plant

Postby Smurf1976 » Tue Jul 09, 2013 11:15 pm

Gordon-Loomberah wrote:there is only a certain amount that the boilers can be throttled back before they have to stop.

It depends a lot on the type of coal being burnt. If it's high grade coal then, depending on plant design etc, you can get down to around one third of capacity without anything too drastic happening (there's some efficiency loss but the plant keeps running). The older plants aren't as flexible however, but they can generally get down at least to 60% without too much hassle.

At the other extreme, especially in the older plants, with low grade coal there's far less flexibility. The newer ones can really only get down to around 60% of rated capacity whilst keeping the boilers going. For some of the older ones there's practically no flexibility at all, they need to run at 80%+ of capacity all the time. No prizes for guessing why Victoria, which has always relied very heavily on low grade coal, promoted off-peak use more aggressively than the other states did.

For steam plant running on gas, they can get down to 20 - 25% of capacity whilst remaining online. For the same plants running oil, it's typically a lower limit of around 30 - 35% of capacity.

For gas turbines, they can certainly get down pretty low but efficiency falls in a heap big time if this is done. That said, the ability to completely stop them and then re-start fairly easily largely overcomes this.

Hydro turbines also have varying efficiency by the way and it varies with different designs too. For example, Poatina (a very high head plant in Tas - head is 829 metres using pelton tubines) the optimum efficiency is at 50 - 60% of peak capacity whereas at John Butters (a lower head plant using francis turbine) the optimum efficiency is at about 80% of peak capacity. That said, a hydro turbine can quite easily operate from under 1% to 100% of capacity and change output incredibly fast.
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