U.S. Department of Energy

Low-Cost Heliostat Development

HiTek logo Photo of a machine with two round discs connected by intertwined chains.

A staged-chain drive unit eliminates destructive coupling loads from severe wind conditions and greatly reduces cumulative fatigue damage.

HiTek Services, under the Baseload CSP FOA, is conducting fundamental parametric analyses of the optimum heliostat size and developing a novel low-cost heliostat design.


There are four tasks under this award:

  • Develop a means to determine the optimum size range of the heliostat, in terms of the applied forces and moments, manufacturing learning curve effects, O&M, and optical efficiency. The outcome of this task will be a spreadsheet analysis tool for parametrically determining heliostat costs that are appropriately allocated into categories with inputs for a specific design.
  • Construct a prototype glass-fiberglass reflector with built-in compressive loads that greatly resist breakage. The outcome of this task will be test results on performance.
  • Design a drive unit based on a high-efficiency staged sprocket-chain configuration that has a lower cost and longer life than conventional gear drives. The outcome of this task will be a drive unit that meets the load requirements for the size range predicted by the parametric analysis for the optimum heliostat size.
  • Create a low-cost, long-life tracking control subsystem. The outcome of this task will be a prototype control system and performance test data.


This project targets three heliostat sub-components to reduce the overall costs of these systems. Innovative approaches are being applied to develop the following:

  • A more break-resistant reflector using glass-fiberglass
  • A drive configuration based on sprockets and chains rather than gears
  • Lower resolution encoders that provide the necessary precision for a long-life tracking control subsystem.

Publications, Patents, and Awards

At this time, this project does not have published articles, patents, or awards.

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