A Method for Projecting Cloud Shadows Onto a Central Receiver Field to Predict Receiver Damage





Central Receiver, Solar Tower, Cloud Transient, DNI, Satellite, Total Sky Imager, All Sky Imager, Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)


This work demonstrates methods of mapping high-spatial-resolution direct normal irradiance (DNI) data from satellites, Total Sky Imagers (TSIs), and analogous data sources onto a heliostat field for characterizing the spatial and temporal variation of the incident flux on a central receiver tower during cloud transient events. The mapping methods are incorporated into an optical software module that interfaces with CoPylot–SolarPILOT’s python API– to provide computationally efficient optical simulation of the heliostat field and the solar power tower. Eventually, this optical model will be incorporated into optimization models whereby a plant operator can understand the effects of cloud transient events on overall power production and receiver lifetime due to creep-fatigue damage and therefore make better informed decisions about receiver shutdown events. By more accurately modelling the effects of cloud events on receiver flux maps, this work may determine the magnitude and frequency of thermal cycling on receiver tubes and panels using actual or realistic cloud shapes instead of averaged DNI values–which may undercount the total cycle number. This work may also prevent unnecessary plant shutdowns due to overly precautionary control strategies and characterize the relative impact of various cloud types on receiver life. We plan to eventually integrate this methodology into the System Advisor Model (SAM) to improve performance model accuracy during periods of cloudiness. In this paper, we demonstrate generating DNI maps and mapping them to a solar field in CoPylot using 10 m resolution data from publicly available Sentinel-2 satellite data over the Crescent Dunes plant.


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How to Cite

Mullin, M., & Wagner, M. (2024). A Method for Projecting Cloud Shadows Onto a Central Receiver Field to Predict Receiver Damage. SolarPACES Conference Proceedings, 1. https://doi.org/10.52825/solarpaces.v1i.650

Conference Proceedings Volume


Operations, Maintenance, and Component Reliability

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