Receiver For A Solar Power Generation Plant With Improved Service Access To The Receiver Modules
A receiver for a solar power generation plant with a plurality of heliostats is provided. The solar receiver is mounted above the heliostats on a tower and faces downwardly towards the heliostats. The solar receiver includes a plurality of receiver modules mounted on a frame which allows individual columns of receiver modules to pivot inwardly and into the tower for service.
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to solar power generation plants and more particularly to methods for controlling and operating solar power plant heliostats.
2. Background of the Invention
Difficulty arises in controlling and operating heliostats for solar power plants. Particularly, it can be difficult to keep a heliostat properly tracking the sun so that the reflected light falls properly on a solar receiver. This often requires expensive drive/tracking motors for the heliostats to minimize errors in heliostat position and burdensome methods to calibrate and verify the tracking of the heliostats. Accordingly, what is needed is a system and method for easily calibrating and correcting the position of the heliostats and thereby facilitating use of less expensive components in the heliostat drive assemblies. As will be seen, the invention provides such an approach in an elegant manner.
In order that the advantages of the invention will be readily understood, a more particular description of the invention briefly described above will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments illustrated in the appended drawings. Understanding that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are not therefore to be considered limiting of its scope, the invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through use of the accompanying drawings, in which:
It will be readily understood that the components of the embodiments, as generally described and illustrated in the Figures herein, could be arranged and designed in a wide variety of different configurations. Thus, the following more detailed description of the embodiments of the invention, as represented in the Figures, is not intended to limit the scope of the invention, as claimed, but is merely representative of certain examples of presently contemplated embodiments in accordance with the invention. The presently described embodiments will be best understood by reference to the drawings, wherein like parts are designated by like numerals throughout.
The invention has been developed in response to the present state of the art and, in particular, in response to the problems and needs in the art that have not yet been fully solved by currently available apparatus and methods. Accordingly, a novel approach is provided for verifying the position of a heliostat or a group of heliostats in a solar power generation system and for correcting the position of those heliostats if necessary.
Referring now to
The solar receiver 18 receives the sunlight from the heliostats 14 to produce power therefrom. The solar receiver 18 may include a thermal receiver or may include a photo voltaic receiver. Thermal receivers are often used to accept sunlight from the heliostats and generate high temperature fluid. This high temperature fluid may be used to generate electricity, such as by powering a turbine. In many cases, the high temperature fluid is used to create steam in a heat exchanger and the steam is used to generate electricity, such as through a turbine.
The receiver 18 may be constructed of a plurality of smaller individual receiver modules. The receiver modules may be arranged in an array, having multiple columns of receiver modules which each contain a number of receiver modules. The receiver modules may be mounted to individual carrier rails which allow a column of receiver modules to be pivoted backwards for servicing.
Two mounting rails with one of its columns swung out for servicing or inspection. The mounting rails 50 are attached to the tower 42 at pivot 54. The mounting rails 50 can swing between an operational position 58 and a service position 62. In the operational position 58, the receiver modules 46 are typically pivoted outwardly from the tower 42 and angled towards the ground so as to be in better alignment with the heliostats. In this position the receiver modules are difficult to service. In the service position 62, the receiver modules are pivoted back into the tower 42 where they may be much more easily service. Swinging a single rail 50 moves a single column of receiver modules 46 back into the tower 42 allowing good access around the receiver modules. In this example, the mounting rails 50, and thus the columns of receiver modules 46, are slightly bent to provide a concave receiver design.
The retainer shields 74 are generally arrow shaped and include a tapered head which forms lateral shoulders or ledges. The receiver modules 46 can rest against the retainer shield shoulders for support. The tapered head of the retainer shields 74 can reflect incoming light so that the light is directed towards the receiver modules.
The support shields 74 include an elongate and relatively narrow body portion 102. The support shield 74 may be formed with an arrow shaped cross section, providing a front portion 106 which includes a narrowed edge 110 and shoulders 114 which extend laterally from the body portion 102. The front portion 106 may also include a conduit 118 formed therethrough along the length of the support shield 74. The conduit 118 may be used to carry cooling fluid as the support shield is exposed to concentrated sunlight and may experience highly elevated temperatures. The cooling fluid may be used to provide power if desired. The front portion of the support shield may be reflective so that sunlight is directed towards the receiver modules 46. In this situation, the front portion 106 may be formed in an acute angle. Alternatively, the front portion 106 may absorb sunlight (increasing its usefulness in heating fluid). In this configuration, the shape is less important and the cooling capacity and reliability is more important.
If necessary, the body 102 of the support shield 74 may include slots 122 which accommodate brackets, clips, or other structures associated with the receiver modules 46. Additionally, the support shield 74 and receiver modules 46 may be designed such that the support shield is in contact with a coolant channel 126 associated with the receiver modules 46.
The receiver array 18 itself may be used to manage the tracking and operation of the heliostats 14. This can be accomplished by measuring output of individual receiver modules 46 while one or more heliostats 14 are moved through paths which deviate from a normal operational path. As discussed herein, a ‘path’ often refers to the path of movement of one or more heliostats. A ‘path’ may also refer to the path or movement across the receiver 18 of the patch of sunlight which is reflected from the heliostat 14. It is appreciated that the movement of the reflected sunlight across the receiver 18 is caused by the movement of the heliostat 14.
The heliostats 14 are moved in order to position their reflected sunlight on the receiver 18 as the sun moves during the day. In some cases, the movement of a heliostat 14 may not cause movement of the reflected sunlight as the heliostat may be programmed to keep the sunlight reflection on a certain part of the receiver 18. In other cases, the heliostat 14 may be moved to move the sunlight across the receiver 18 in order to change the output of the power generation system or to calibrate the position of the heliostat.
Heliostat paths can be described by numerous waypoints and times, by interpolations, or by other equation forms. For simplicity, only a few simple motion paths are marked on the receiver 18. The paths are marked to show different points on the receiver 18 and to show the movement between these points.
The motion of the reflection center of one heliostat or cluster of heliostats, as it moves from A to B, crosses from one receiver module to another receiver module and generates a difference in output power in these receiver modules. For simplicity, the receiver modules are discussed as being photovoltaic modules. As the heliostat moves from A to B along path 138, the receiver module at A will experience reduced power generation and the receiver module at B will experience increased power generation. This may be detected, for photovoltaic modules, as increased or voltage or current. In calibrating the position of a heliostat, the heliostat may be moved through a path which moves between multiple destinations, such as between A, B, C, and D.
The measured output differences between these receiver modules can confirm to the computer 38 when the heliostat was aimed at these particular receiver modules, and the computer can correlate the confirmed positions (reflection on the particular receiver modules) to the expected position and, if different, adjust the calibration settings of the heliostat. If the calibration is thus verified, and/or more power is generated, the perturbation can be stopped, in effect adopting a new ‘home position’. If results are not along those lines, the path can be continued and changed until the calibration is confirmed to the degree desired.
The path indicated at 142, the R-S-T path, can be another example of a tuning experiment. At this time of day, with this power plant design, assume that the high-flux zone is shrinking in width. Assume further that the more expensive PV module at R is capable of higher marginal efficiency at current flux levels, than is module T and possibly S, which may be seeing increased cogeneration circulating fluid temperature rises. The command to perform the S-T-R path perturbation will then result in confirmation and correction of the calibration of the heliostat or cluster. If the output power was higher when pointed to T, the heliostat or cluster can be paused or backtracked to return to T. Later in the day, the heliostat may be commanded to traverse path T-R-S to address expected widening of the high-flux zone. In this manner, movement through a path expected to increase the operational capacity of the receiver 18 may provide calibration of the heliostat aiming (by detecting the increases and decreases of individual receiver module output associated with the path) and may also provide optimization of the power plant operation. While the path is intended to move the heliostat into a position which increases the overall power generation of the receiver 18, the actual overall power generation can be measured during the path movement and this can confirm the operational strategy.
The receiver module 46 may then be repaired or replaced as necessary. The receiver module 46 may then be secured 174 to the rail 50 and the person may connect 178 any applicable fluid or power lines. The person may then enable 182 fluid pressure and check for leaks and enable 186 electrical connectivity. The rail 50 may then be pivoted 190 forwards into alignment with the receiver 18. If necessary, the person may then connect 194 any remaining fluid or power lines and verify proper assembly of the receiver. Beams 82 may be reattached 198 to the rails 50, and the person may leave the tower 42. As discussed, the rails 50 and support structures associated with the receiver 18 allow the person to service the receiver from inside of the tower.
In constructing and operating a power plant, it is often desirable to first gather information regarding select technology and business choices; heliostat field technology, receiver modules, infrastructure and cost elasticities, locale, weather databases, etc. It is often desirable to simulate to get matched receiver & heliostat field layout and suggested initial heliostat pointing patterns and groupings. This gives you simulated data on each heliostat's reflection pattern; the changes in current or voltage or power as it crosses the different PV sensors, the flux distribution & daily, seasonal variations, on the receiver, of each heliostat, each heliostat cluster, and the entire heliostat field.
The simulated data also provides an initial set of calculated pointing paths for each heliostat & cluster. By computer simulation, calculate sets of sensor reading changes resulting from the motion of each heliostats reflection across the photovoltaic receiver modules and possible additional photovoltaic sensors. (Some photovoltaic sensing can be done by less expensive photovoltaic cells designed for lower flux levels than those present across the receiver generally. A likely example would be a column or row of PV cells or sensors on the tower body, where the solar flux is rarely concentrated beyond that of a single heliostat or cluster)
Simulation, over monthly, daily, or sub-hourly effects, and taking in account performance curves of heliostats and receiver modules may give number and locations of heliostats & clusters, by ranking in terms of plant maximum power production or other metrics of interest or in terms of each heliostat and receiver component. During iterations, a point of diminishing returns (e.g. a qualifying cost effectiveness) marks the cutoff in rank for each component's contribution and eventually finalizes the design. Now synthesis of the control system can be implemented to yield, among other things, the static, seasonal, daily, or hourly, etc. alignment data timetable for the receiver and its receiver modules, and where any part of the receiver will be at any given time.
In constructing the solar power generation plant, it may be desirable to plan large or small plant development or expansion phases. With the present invention, it is possible to achieve this by early building and positioning of the receiver's first photovoltaic module or element. It is then possible to commission each heliostat while still commissioning receiver modules. In this manner, it is possible to start populating the heliostat field before the receiver is complete because power is immediately available from the photovoltaic receiver modules and possibly from thermal receiver modules. Delivery and installation of the heliostat field can take time as truckloads arrive and installation crews are finite in size. As long as at least one photovoltaic is operational, heliostats can be aligned. It is, however, easier and faster to establish where a heliostat is pointing if you are watching for its effect on a line of photovoltaics rather than on a single sensing point;
In order to accurately sense and establish the shape of a heliostat reflection from a single photovoltaic, the heliostat will be required to pan a combination of left, up, right, and down movements in order to gauge/verify the reflection size and shape, and hence derive where the heliostat needs to be commanded to point at when the center is actually at the sense point on the receiver module or sensor. Internal heliostat pointing settings to be calibrated typically include parameters such as pulse counts on stepper motors, or quadrature signals, or other actuator position sensor readings or mathematically post-processed quantities.
The first calibration of a heliostat allows the plant to note exactly what values need to be internally achieved by its controller in order to point to a known location near or on the receiver. That starts its historical record in the heliostat field database. The database would have had either no prior data save for a simple estimate or a simulation result. This calibration can be done periodically because all devices and sensors age and deform. When heliostats are aligned and calibrated, they begin contributing to plant power output through the use of any completed photovoltaic modules or harnessed thermal modules.
In this manner, you will typically continue to commission new heliostats and receiver modules while operating the power plant. It is possible to test power production by varying heliostat aim points and paths and observing results. Using the database of simulated data and/or previously collected earlier, each heliostat or cluster is calibration-checked by giving it a path deviation, the simplest, and possibly least expensive of which, may be to simply turn off its motion. The path deviation action also supplies an automatic tuning experiment: If total plant power output increases, the new aim point can be adopted or incorporated into the heliostat (or heliostat cluster's) path, with perhaps no need for further calibration of that heliostat or cluster at this point in time.
One of the reasons for generating different path deviations is that the path shape depends on whether the objective is to test calibration thoroughly, which may occasionally be necessitated, or to explore for increased power generation. Due to simulation, calculation, and/or experimental results (the database taken on commissioning heliostats or later data if available), we expect and watch for a certain sensor set signatures to emerge after a certain amount of time. e.g. 30 seconds. When these readings appear (e.g. a match is found through minimum least squares pattern matching) we correlate it with the expected timing and reflection shape. Early, late, and off-position responses (e.g. 2 photovoltaic cells low) will lead to heliostat recalibration by noting and adopting the new internal values corresponding to the current actual position of its reflection.
To assist the pattern matching and power maximization in a high-noise environment with possibly thousands of heliostats, the MPP controls (i.e. the output regulator/controller associated with one or more receiver modules) can be frozen or otherwise commanded to stop varying their internal parameters. The receiver module sensor/photovoltaic module readings in adjacent areas will then have a potentially major source of relative noise removed, allowing easier discernment of the emergence of the signal pattern of interest caused by the motion of the heliostat reflection of interest. The differential in voltage, current, or power readings between neighboring sensors persists even if other effects such as cloud movement cause drops in solar flux across major areas of the HF and RX.
This allows the system to isolate the aiming location or a heliostat or a group of heliostats from the rest of the heliostats even while all of these heliostats remain in operation. The normally operating heliostats will move according to the movements of the sun to place their reflection on a desired location on the receiver, which may include reflecting the sun onto a particular receiver module or group of receiver modules. These movements are preprogrammed and used to guide the heliostats. As a heliostat or a group of heliostats is moved in a different pattern from the previously programmed pattern (that used for maintaining the sun's reflection on a desired area of the receiver), the position of the sunlight reflected by heliostat(s) onto the receiver will change and the change in position may be detected by the change in output levels from individual receiver modules. Thus, as the heliostat(s) stop movement, or move in a programmed path different from that used to normally follow the sun's movement, the changes in power output in the various receiver modules indicates to a control system where the heliostat(s) are currently aimed. This information may be used to correct the heliostat(s) aiming and may also be used to refine the programmed pattern of movement used to follow the sun and reflect light onto the receiver.
The electrical power controllers which are connected to the receiver modules are typically able to vary the electrical parameters to optimize power production. As an example, these electrical power controllers may continuously vary the output resistance or load in order optimize the voltage or current experienced by a photovoltaic receiver module and most efficiently produce electricity. It is appreciated that causing the electrical power controllers to operate under constant parameters instead of varying parameters will make it easier to detect the changes in electrical output from the receiver modules as the heliostat(s) are moved in a calibration path across a section of the receiver. All electrical power controllers may be held constant during a calibration path movement, or a group of electrical power controllers corresponding to a location on the receiver associated with the calibration path may be held constant during the calibration path.
As an example, if the ‘MPP hold mode’ takes the form of constant voltage across the section of PV cells that it controls the output of, then one can select current as the sensed parameter of interest, since a change in illumination across those cells will manifest itself rather cleanly as a change in current.
This level of and efficiency in control results in cost savings:
A) Elimination of extra sensing towers. As calibration of the position of a heliostat or group of heliostats may be performed using individual receiver modules as sensors, it is not necessary to have a separate sensing tower to calibrate the heliostats. The use of an extra sensing tower adds to the expense in constructing a solar power generation system and also reduces the output of the system as the heliostats are off of the receiver and not producing electricity while they are being calibrated.
B) Lower production and/or maintenance costs. The present system reduces the wear on the heliostat drive systems as calibration can be performed on the receiver instead of on another sensing tower. The movement of a heliostat from a receiver to a separate sensing tower may involve a large movement of the heliostat. This calibration movement may be as much as one fourth or more of the daily movement of a heliostat. Thus, the extra movement necessitated by calibrating heliostats on a separate sensing tower may cause a correspondingly increased wear on the heliostat drive mechanisms.
The present invention allows for calibration of a heliostat by performing a small calibration path across a section of the receiver. This path is small and does not significantly increase the movement and wear of the heliostat. Where a heliostat is momentarily powered off or held in a constant position for the calibration path (sensing the reflected sunlight drift across receiver modules), no extra movement of the heliostat is required. The heliostat just needs to speed up a bit afterwards in order to get back to a desired operational path again but does not move through a longer overall path. This calibration method results in longer life of the heliostat drive mechanisms and may allow for cheaper materials and manufacturing tolerances in creating these drive systems.
C) The present system uses less reflecting area since each reflection is no longer regularly off-target. In prior art systems, a certain percentage of the heliostats at a given time are off target for calibration. Viewed in another way, all of the heliostats are off target for a certain percentage of their operational time for calibration. The present system does not require moving heliostats off of the receiver and onto a calibration sensor tower. As such, fewer heliostats are required for a given power output and a larger power output is achieved for a given number/size of heliostats.
D) Since the system simulation and control system achieves automatic feedback collection and derivation of actual heliostat pointing offsets, etc., and make use of them to rearrange target points, additional cost savings can result from cheaper drives and electronics inside the heliostats since the motion pointing accuracy, repeatability, and frequency of drift are now less stringent. During installation and commissioning, the heliostats can be set up to work together. For example, if one heliostat cannot point precisely at the center of the receiver, its home position will be assigned elsewhere or its path will involve points that it can achieve.
Another heliostat, elsewhere in the field of potentially thousands of heliostats, although built to the same specifications, will due to coarseness in its motion drive, be able to hit near enough to the RX center, due to either more precise construction or different position on the field and time of year (in which case it is unable to hit where heliostat A hits); and so they are commanded to achieve something close to the desired flux distribution by sharing the task as calculated by the central controller and implemented through individual calibration corrections, clustering pattern changes, or re-clustering, etc.
E) Reduced power consumption by the heliostats. The calibration of the heliostats through path movements on the receiver itself also reduces the power used by the heliostats. This translates into more energy produced by the system and sold to the customer and allows for cheaper or longer-lasting drive electronics. By way of example, popular in motion drives use stepper motors, which can drive the heliostat drive mechanisms through a given path while being fed different power levels. At higher operational power levels, they are less likely to skip steps. Skipping a step is a typically unnoticed event which is only corrected upon re-calibration.
The present invention achieves this recalibration so easily and quickly (and without power production loss) that calibration can be much more frequent and lost steps become less significant. Thus, it becomes possible to reduce the power consumed by the stepper motors while monitoring and adjusting (managing) their pointing performance and compensating. It is even possible to employ an algorithm which tracks (or records/learns) the skipping patterns each heliostat has and adjusts accordingly such as by commanding the heliostat to move extra steps while in use. The system can track how the tendency to lose steps changes with age, and reduce the frequency of calibration by regularly automatically adjusting the heliostat pointing path by estimated recalibration numbers based on its recorded calibration history. These adjustments may be correlated with weather or special commanded events for that heliostat.
Experiments have already found heliostat drive power reduction figures in excess of 80%. The reduced power consumption of the drive motors reduces heat within the motors and prolongs the motor life. Previously, heliostat drive designs consumed a high amount of power compared to the generated power. One commercial heliostat design consumed an amount of power roughly equivalent to 4.5% of the heliostat's contribution to the power plant output. After implementation of the present control system, the heliostat experienced an 80% reduction in power consumption. Thus, a similarly design prior art power plant with a 100 MW receiver and heliostat array may have consumed 4.5 MW in driving the heliostats for a net power generation of 95.5 MW. The present invention may allow for the heliostat drive power to be reduced to approximately 0.5 MW, allowing for the net power generation to be increased to about 99.5 MW, an increase in approximately 4% of the net output of the plant.
Further reduction in capital costs accrue due to the reduced power consumption of the heliostat operating modes, and the amount of power they draw during peak emergency demand, when they are commanded to move their reflections off of the receiver at significantly higher speeds, assisted by the simulation-assisted technique of calculating shorter emergency pointing paths and identification of only certain heliostats earmarked to draw maximum power first during the emergency. This additional fact that the heliostats can now achieve the typical emergency operation required for safety of people and equipment, using less peak power, and less sustained power during operations, translates into lower power infrastructure costs due to savings in wire thickness/gauge, and hence in kg of copper and its transportation costs, for example.
The heliostat 18 is then operated to cause 218 a deviation from the programmed path and expected location on the receiver 18. Depending on the location of the heliostat reflection on the receiver 18, the deviation may involve accelerating the movement of the heliostat, slowing the movement of the heliostat, stopping the heliostat, or moving the heliostat through a another path such as a loop path between particular locations on the receiver. In each case, the heliostat will move differently than the programmed path and the reflected sunlight on the receiver will deviate from its expected location.
The individual receiver modules 46 are then monitored to measure 222 output changes of individual receiver modules and to identify 226 the position of the heliostat on the receiver 18. The individual receiver modules often are connected to a power inverter or other controller. This controller may operate to maximize electricity production, and may thus constantly vary the load across the receiver modules. In order to identify changes in the reflection position of the heliostat, the receiver module controllers in the expected area of the receiver may be operated in a constant mode where their operational parameters are not varied. This allows the changes in sunlight on receiver modules to be more easily observed as changes in voltage, current, etc.
The output from the individual receiver modules is monitored to identify changes in output corresponding to the heliostat reflection movement. This allows the computer control system to identify the location of the heliostat reflection on the receiver. It is appreciated that, if the heliostat is moved through a deviated path, the computer control system may know the shape of the deviated path, and may thus identify the path deviation even if the heliostat was not aimed properly and the path deviation occurs on a different location on the receiver. Identifying the location of the heliostat path deviation (i.e. the movement of the heliostat reflection) on the receiver allows the computer to determine the aiming of the heliostat and to determine 230 if the heliostat is not properly aimed at a desired location on the receiver. The computer system may thus determine the amount by which the heliostat tracking is off from. For larger power generation systems, the receiver 18 may be large enough that the reflection from a heliostat covers only a portion of the receiver surface and the heliostat may thus be aimed at a particular location on the receiver different than the receiver center.
The computer system may then apply 234 a correction to the heliostat in order to keep the heliostat accurately tracking the sun and accurately placing a reflection on the receiver. The correction may be changing the heliostat position to place the heliostat back on a desired path of motion. The correction may also be adjusting the control parameters of the heliostat. For example, if it is determined that the heliostat moves more slowly than expected, due to lost steps, inaccurate motor calibration (i.e. motor steps per degree of movement), etc. the computer may adjust the motor calibration and increase or decrease the motor movement for a desired heliostat movement. In this manner, the calibration methods may accommodate for losses and inaccuracies within the heliostat drive.
Embodiments in accordance with the invention may be embodied as an apparatus, system, device, method, computer program product, or other entities. Accordingly, the invention may take the form of a mechanical structure, an entirely hardware embodiment, an entirely software embodiment (including firmware, resident software, micro-code, etc.), or an embodiment combining mechanical, software and hardware aspects that may all generally be referred to herein as a “module” or “system.” Furthermore, the invention may take the form of a computer program product embodied in any tangible medium of expression having computer-usable program code embodied in the medium.
Any combination of one or more computer-usable or computer-readable media may be utilized. For example, a computer-readable medium may include one or more of a portable computer diskette, a hard disk, a random access memory (RAM) device, a read-only memory (ROM) device, an erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM or Flash memory) device, a portable compact disc read-only memory (CDROM), an optical storage device, and a magnetic storage device. In selected embodiments, a computer-readable medium may comprise any non-transitory medium that can contain, store, communicate, propagate, or transport the program for use by or in connection with the instruction execution system, apparatus, or device.
Computer program code for carrying out operations of embodiments described herein may be written in any combination of one or more programming languages, including an object-oriented programming language such as Java, Smalltalk, C++, or the like and conventional procedural programming languages, such as the “C” programming language or similar programming languages. The program code may execute entirely on a computer, partly on a computer, as a stand-alone software package, on a stand-alone hardware unit, partly on a remote computer spaced some distance from, or entirely on a remote computer or server. In the latter scenario, the remote computer may be connected to the power generation system and/or a local computer through any type of network, including a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN), or the connection may be made to an external computer (e.g., through the Internet using an Internet Service Provider).
Embodiments can also be implemented in cloud computing environments. In this description and the following claims, “cloud computing” is defined as a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned via virtualization and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction, and then scaled accordingly. A cloud model can be composed of various characteristics (e.g., on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, measured service, etc.), service models (e.g., Software as a Service (“SaaS”), Platform as a Service (“PaaS”), Infrastructure as a Service (“IaaS”), and deployment models (e.g., private cloud, community cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud, etc.).
The embodiments are described with reference to flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams of methods, apparatus (systems) and computer program products according to embodiments of the invention. It will be understood that each block of the flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams, and combinations of blocks in the flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams, can be implemented by computer program instructions or code. These computer program instructions may be provided to a processor of a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or other programmable data processing apparatus to produce a machine, such that the instructions, which execute via the processor of the computer or other programmable data processing apparatus, create means for implementing the functions/acts specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.
These computer program instructions may also be stored in a computer-readable medium that can direct a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to function in a particular manner, such that the instructions stored in the computer-readable medium produce an article of manufacture including instruction means which implement the function/act specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.
The computer program instructions may also be loaded onto a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to cause a series of operational steps to be performed on the computer or other programmable apparatus to produce a computer implemented process such that the instructions which execute on the computer or other programmable apparatus provide processes for implementing the functions/acts specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.
The flowchart and block diagrams of the Figures illustrate the architecture, functionality, and operation of possible implementations of systems, methods, and computer program products according to one or more embodiments. In this regard, each block in the flowchart or block diagrams may represent a module, segment, or portion of code, which comprises one or more executable instructions for implementing the specified logical function(s). It will also be noted that each block of the block diagrams and/or flowchart illustrations, and combinations of blocks in the block diagrams and/or flowchart illustrations, may be implemented by special purpose hardware-based systems that perform the specified functions or acts, or combinations of special purpose hardware and computer instructions.
It should also be noted that, in some alternative implementations, the functions noted in the blocks may occur out of the order noted in the Figure. In certain embodiments, two blocks shown in succession may, in fact, be executed substantially concurrently, or the blocks may sometimes be executed in the reverse order, depending upon the functionality involved. Alternatively, certain steps or functions may be omitted if not needed.
The invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative, and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims, rather than by the foregoing description. All changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.
1. A solar receiver system for a solar power plant having a plurality of heliostats positioned to reflect sunlight at a solar receiver mounted above the heliostats on a tower, the solar receiver system comprising:
- a first generally vertical rail;
- a first plurality of receiver modules attached to the first rail and arranged in a first column;
- a second generally vertical rail;
- a second plurality of receiver modules attached to the second rail and arranged in a second column;
- a pivot extending generally horizontally;
- wherein a bottom end of the first rail is attached to the pivot;
- wherein a bottom end of the second rail is attached to the pivot;
- wherein the first rail and the second rail are disposed in a first generally vertical operative position; and
- wherein the first rail may be pivoted to a second maintenance position without pivoting the second rail.
2. The solar receiver system of claim 1, wherein, in the first operative position the first rail and the second rail are disposed at an angle outwardly from the pivot so that the first plurality of receiver modules and second plurality of receiver modules are facing at an angle downwardly.
3. The solar receiver system of claim 1, wherein, in the second maintenance position the first rail is pivoted backwards away from the second rail.
4. The solar receiver system of claim 3, wherein, in the second maintenance position the first rail is pivoted into the tower for maintenance.
5. The solar receiver system of claim 1, further comprising a beam selectively attachable to the back of the first rail and the back of the second rail to stabilize the first rail and second rail.
6. The solar receiver system of claim 1, further comprising a retaining shield disposed between the first rail and the second rail when the first and second rails are disposed in the first operative position, the retaining shield comprising a body member extending between the first rail and the second rail and first and second shoulders extending laterally from a front portion of the body, the shoulders extending in front of an edge of the first plurality of receiver modules and an edge of the second plurality of receiver modules such that the first plurality of receiver modules and the second plurality of receiver modules is supported by the first and second shoulders when in the first operative position.
7. The solar receiver system of claim 6, wherein the retaining shield has a front which tapers to a narrow edge from the first and second shoulders.
8. The solar receiver system of claim 7, wherein the retaining shield has a front which is reflective to direct light towards the receiver modules.
9. The solar receiver system of claim 6, wherein the retaining shield has a coolant conduit passing therethrough.
10. The solar receiver system of claim 9, wherein the retaining shield has a front which absorbs light to heat fluid in the coolant conduit.
11. The solar receiver system of claim 1, wherein the first and second plurality of receiver modules are selected from the group consisting of photovoltaic power generation modules and thermal collectors.
12. A solar receiver system for a solar power plant having a heliostat positioned to reflect sunlight at a solar receiver, the solar receiver comprising:
- a first plurality of receiver modules disposed in an array along the solar receiver in a vertical direction whereby the first plurality of receiver modules absorb solar energy for production of power;
- a second plurality of receiver modules disposed in an array along the solar receiver in a vertical direction whereby the second plurality of receiver modules absorb solar energy for production of power;
- a support frame for holding the first and second plurality of receiver modules; and
- wherein the support frame is movable to allow either of the first or second plurality of receiver modules to be pivoted into a maintenance position without pivoting the other of the first or second plurality or receiver modules into the maintenance position.
13. The solar receiver system of claim 12, wherein the support frame includes
- a first rail which holds the first plurality of receiver modules;
- a second rail which holds the second plurality of receiver modules;
- wherein the first rail is pivotally mounted at a bottom portion thereof;
- wherein the second rail is pivotally mounted at a bottom portion thereof;
- wherein the first rail or second rail may be pivoted forwards into an operative position or be pivoted backwards into a maintenance position.
14. The solar receiver system of claim 13, wherein, in the operative position, the first and second rails are disposed above the pivot and angled downwardly towards the heliostat.
15. The solar receiver system of claim 14, wherein, in the maintenance position, the first or second rail is pivoted backwards away from the heliostat.
16. The solar receiver system of claim 15, wherein the solar receiver is mounted above the heliostat on a tower and wherein, in the maintenance position, the first or second rail is pivoted backwards into the tower.
17. The solar receiver system of claim 12, wherein the first and second plurality of receiver modules are selected from the group consisting of photovoltaic power generation modules and thermal collectors.
18. The solar receiver system of claim 12, further comprising a plurality of heliostats aimed to reflect sunlight at the solar receiver, and wherein the plurality of heliostats are controlled to track the sun and maintain reflected sunlight on the solar receiver.
19. The solar receiver system of claim 13, further comprising a retaining shield disposed between the first rail and the second rail when the first and second rails are disposed in the operative position, the retaining shield comprising a body member extending between the first rail and the second rail, a first shoulder extending laterally from a front portion of the body such that the first plurality of receiver modules is supported by the first shoulder when in the operative position, and a second shoulder extending laterally from a front portion of the body such that the second plurality of receiver modules is supported by the second shoulder when in the operative position.
20. The solar receiver system of claim 12, wherein the retaining shield has a coolant conduit passing therethrough.
Filed: Nov 9, 2012
Publication Date: Nov 21, 2013
Inventor: Michael Gerard Blum (Palo Alto, CA)
Application Number: 13/673,891
International Classification: H01L 31/052 (20060101); F24J 2/10 (20060101); F24J 2/38 (20060101); F24J 2/07 (20060101);