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With over 100 commercial projects in operation or under construction worldwide, concentrating solar power (CSP) has the potential to play a key role in the mass production of power. Despite the enormous potential, this technology suffers from a number of weaknesses that are related to the intermittency and variable nature of the solar resource, which results in reduced capacity factors and operation flexibility. The incorporation of energy backup systems provides a solution to these drawbacks, allowing CSP to become more dispatchable, cost effective, and easier to integrate into existing power grids. Backup systems may come in the form of thermal energy storage (TES) or auxiliary fuels (mostly natural gas but also coal, fuel, solid biomass, biogas, biomethane, and syngas). Auxiliary fuels are usually integrated using conventional furnaces or boilers, although higher efficiencies may be achieved when using conventional or aeroderivative gas turbines. The possibility of using heat transfer fluids (HTF) with higher thermal stability (like molten salts) would permit integration of energy backup systems in a more efficient and cost-effective manner. A great deal of research and development is going on at present with the aim of devising CSP plants capable of competing with other energy resources and technologies. This paper provides a critical analysis of CSP technologies based on parabolic trough solar collectors, describing the pros and cons associated with incorporating backup energy systems. This analysis includes technical and environmental aspects of different CSP configurations.
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Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI)
In conventional power plants, this energy is obtained from the combustion of fuels (coal, oil, natural gas, and biomass) or from nuclear reactions.
Note that support for the generation of electricity from renewable energy resources in Spain was abolished for additional capacity under Real Decreto-ley 1/2012 due to the global financial crisis.
Ratio of the electricity generated during a period of time to the energy that could have been generated if the CSP plant had operated at full-power.
Ability of the plant to provide electricity on demand.
Steam temperature and pressure typically around 370–375°C and 90–100 bar, respectively
The solar multiple represents the actual size of the solar field relative to what would be required to reach the installed capacity of the plant at the time of nominal solar irradiance (typically 850 w/m 2).
Higher steam turbine capacities are not considered because, in that scenario, operation of this element during the night would be below nominal values (hence, resulting in lower efficiencies).
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- Technical and Environmental Analysis of Parabolic Trough Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Technologies
Guillermo San Miguel