Solar thermal power plants

Solar thermal power plants are based on conventional power plant technology, supplemented by concentrated solar heat as a source of energy. It can be differentiated between three large-scale solar thermal systems: parabolic trough collectors, Fresnel systems and tower power plants. Solar thermal power plants have been using large thermal storage systems for many years to enable electricity to be generated even during the night. The global market is estimated to amount to around 20 billion euros per year. The German industry is well positioned with components and systems.

news / 2017-07-20

Heliostats are mirrors that bundle sunlight in solar tower power plants and direct it to the central receiver. This is situated at the top of the solar tower. Engineers have now developed a new geometric shape for heliostats with a pentagonal mirror. These are controlled by new software. Five of these new heliostats are currently undergoing practical testing on a test field in Jülich. Read more

news / 2016-07-18

A key component for the future energy supply system is provided by high-temperature heat storage systems. In power plants, these enable a more flexible drive system and make it easier to store process heat in industrial production. Molten salts, for example, are used as the heat transfer media in these storage systems. Scientists from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have developed a new storage unit for temperatures up to 560 °C. The construction of the test facility started in summer 2016. Read more

news / 2015-10-02

Oils were previously circulated in the receiver pipes of parabolic trough power plants as the heat transfer medium. Scientists from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are now testing a new concept at the research platform in Almeria, Spain. Here water vapour is directly used in the pipes as the heat transfer medium. This enables higher operating temperatures to be achieved and the absence of an intermediate heat transfer medium eliminates a source of losses. This direct steam generation improves the efficiency of parabolic trough power stations. Read more

news / 2013-11-23

The performance capability of receivers in parabolic trough plants is described by two properties: the optical efficiency and the thermal losses. These properties are measured in non-destructive tests on laboratory test stands in the DLR’s QUARZ Centre. To measure thermal losses, the receiver is heated to different operating temperatures. Read more

news / 2013-04-18

Air-based measurement systems help when optically examining entire solar arrays. QFly is a measurement system consisting of a flying drone that can carry either a CCD or infrared camera. Depending on the assignment, QFly flies over the solar array using different routes and takes photographs in the visible or infrared range of the spectrum. Read more

Projects currently being funded