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Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)

Concentrating Solar Power

ANNOUNCEMENT:  Sandia’s CSP team is offering 50% cost match for collaborative CSP Technology Development Proposals

Sandia’s concentrating solar power (CSP) team is seeking proposals from commercial partners who would like to invest in developing new solar thermal technologies and/or validating technological concepts using Sandia’s expertise and infrastructure, including the National Solar Thermal Test Facility. Areas of possible collaboration include, but are not limited to, (1) novel research, development, and demonstration in reflector systems for efficient solar energy collection; (2) large-scale metrology; (3) receivers for solar-to-thermal energy conversion; (4) thermal energy storage; (5) combined cycles for high efficiency; and (6) modeling. Read the full solicitation and cost share details on the site.

Concentrating solar power (CSP) uses arrays of mirrors to concentrate large amounts of heat by focusing sunlight from a large field into a much smaller area. The concentrated heat energy is then used in a conventional power cycle or other heat engine to produce mechanical power that drives an electrical generator. The heat can also be efficiently and cheaply stored to produce electricity when the sun is not shining. Typically, CSP power plants generate large amounts of power (hundreds of megawatts) for utility-scale applications.

The Concentrating Solar Technologies Department develops solar thermal electric technologies for the DOE Solar Thermal Electric Program. Working in conjunction with the Photovoltaics Systems Department and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the department has developed parabolic trough, power tower, and dish/engine technology to support virtually every major solar thermal electric activity in the United States. In conjunction with industry, our staff have had pivotal technical and programmatic roles in the Solar Two power tower project; dish/engine joint venture programs with SAIC, Allied Signal, and Boeing; and in the development of advanced concepts, components (heliostats, solar receivers, and engines), and systems. We also support a range of systems analyses, market identification studies, and international cooperative projects (through the International Energy Agency (IEA) working group SolarPACES), conducted in cooperation with industry partners.

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Solar CSP R&D Activities at Sandia

Sandia works with its partner laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) located in Golden, CO, in a “virtual laboratory” concept called SunLab. SunLab supports the DOE Concentrating Solar Power Program and U.S. CSP industry by providing: R&D on CSP components and systems, advanced component development, component and systems analysis, test and evaluation, and supporting market development activities.

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Software & Tools

Sandia has developed a suite of software and tools to assist in modeling, designing, and characterizing CSP systems and components.

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