U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

SunShot Initiative

Solar Power Tower Improvements with the Potential to Reduce Costs

Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne logo

Receiver test panel design incorporates significant cost reductions.

Rocketdyne, under the Baseload CSP FOA, is designing, fabricating, and testing a several components of a molten salt solar power tower that is in line with SunShot Initiative cost targets.

Approach

Rocketdyne is beginning with its baseline solar tower configuration, which is well represented by the System Advisor Model template for a 100-MW solar tower. This mature system-level design is the result of years of study and more than $100 million of technology development, including the Solar Two demonstration plant. After performing concept feasibility studies, Rocketdyne developed a technology roadmap from the baseline configuration to a system design capable of achieving a levelized cost of energy less than $0.07/kWh with a capacity factor greater than 75% by the year 2020. In the project's final phase, Rocketdyne will perform field validation of the heliostat and its control system, the receiver coating material, thermal energy storage system, and heat exchanger for the SCO2 cycle. At the end of this project, Rocketdyne expects to design and fabricate full-scale CSP components that incorporate lessons learned to support commercial deployment.

Innovation

Improvements are being made to the receiver, heliostats, thermal storage, power block, and systems integration areas. Key components include:

  • A new ceramic nanotube thermal selective coating paint for central receivers to improve absorption, emissivity, and durability
  • A low-cost heliostat design that will lead to a reduction in manufacturing costs
  • A new thermocline thermal storage concept utilizing a unique internal tank insulation concept that will allow for reduced capital costs
  • An advanced supercritical CO2 power cycle that will increase thermal cycle efficiency by 5% and reduce balance of plant capital costs by 25%
  • A state-of-the-art closed-loop flux optimization control system and operational maintenance and performance optimization software.

Publications, Patents, and Awards

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

SunShot logo

Quarterly Progress Reports

Learn about other DOE competitive awards for concentrating solar power research that are in progress.