Thermal and hydraulic characteristics of a large-scaled parabolic trough solar field (PTSF) under cloud passages

  • Linrui Ma
  • Zhifeng WangEmail author
  • Ershu Xu
  • Li Xu
Research Article


To better understand the characteristics of a large-scaled parabolic trough solar field (PTSF) under cloud passages, a novel method which combines a closed-loop thermal hydraulic model (CLTHM) and cloud vector (CV) is developed. Besides, the CLTHM is established and validated based on a pilot plant. Moreover, some key parameters which are used to characterize a typical PTSF and CV are presented for further simulation. Furthermore, two sets of results simulated by the CLTHM are compared and discussed. One set deals with cloud passages by the CV, while the other by the traditionally distributed weather stations (DWSs). Because of considering the solar irradiance distribution in a more detailed and realistically way, compared with the distributed weather station (DWS) simulation, all essential parameters, such as the total flowrate, flow distribution, outlet temperature, thermal and exergetic efficiency, and exergetic destruction tend to be more precise and smoother in the CV simulation. For example, for the runner outlet temperature, which is the most crucial parameter for a running PTSF, the maximum relative error reaches −15% in the comparison. In addition, the mechanism of thermal and hydraulic unbalance caused by cloud passages are explained based on the simulation.


parabolic trough solar field (PTSF) thermal hydraulic model cloud passages transients 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2018YFB-0905102).


  1. 1.
    Yılmaz İ H, Mwesigye A. Modeling, simulation and performance analysis of parabolic trough solar collectors: a comprehensive review. Applied Energy, 2018, 225: 135–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Lippke F. Simulation of the part-load behavior of a 30 MWe SEGS plant. Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico, US, Technical report SAND95-1293, 1995Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Stuetzle T, Blair N, Mitchell J W, Beckman W A. Automatic control of a 30 MW SEGS VI parabolic trough plant. Solar Energy, 2004, 76(1–3): 187–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Patnode A M. Simulation and performance evaluation of parabolic trough solar power plants. Dissertation for the Master Degree, Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2006Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Llorente García I, Álvarez J L, Blanco D. Performance model for parabolic trough solar thermal power plants with thermal storage: comparison to operating plant data. Solar Energy, 2011, 85(10): 2443–2460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Silva R, Pérez M, Fernández-Garcia A. Modeling and co-simulation of a parabolic trough solar plant for industrial process heat. Applied Energy, 2013, 106: 287–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Al-Maliki W A K, Alobaid F, Starkloff R, Kez V, Epple B. Investigation on the dynamic behaviour of a parabolic trough power plant during strongly cloudy days. Applied Thermal Engineering, 2016, 99: 114–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Salazar G A, Fraidenraich N, de Oliveira C A A, de Castro Vilela O, Hongn M, Gordon J M. Analytic modeling of parabolic trough solar thermal power plants. Energy, 2017, 138: 1148–1156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Li L, Sun J, Li Y. Prospective fully-coupled multi-level analytical methodology for concentrated solar power plants: general modelling. Applied Thermal Engineering, 2017, 118: 171–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Li L, Li Y, Sun J. Prospective fully-coupled multi-level analytical methodology for concentrated solar power plants: applications. Applied Thermal Engineering, 2017, 118: 159–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Li L, Sun J, Li Y. Thermal load and bending analysis of heat collection element of direct-steam-generation parabolic-trough solar power plant. Applied Thermal Engineering, 2017, 127: 1530–1542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Li L, Sun J, Li Y, He Y L, Xu H. Transient characteristics of a parabolic trough direct-steam-generation process. Renewable Energy, 2019, 135: 800–810CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Abutayeh M, Alazzam A, El-Khasawneh B. Balancing heat transfer fluid flow in solar fields. Solar Energy, 2014, 105: 381–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Giostri A. Transient effects in linear concentrating solar thermal power plant. Dissertation for the Doctoral Degree. Italy: Politecnico Di Milano, 2014Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Augsburger G, Favrat D. Modelling of the receiver transient flux distribution due to cloud passages on a solar tower thermal power plant. Solar Energy, 2013, 87: 42–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Colmenar-Santos A, Munuera-Pérez F J, Tawfik M, Castro-Gil M. A simple method for studying the effect of scattering of the performance parameters of Parabolic Trough Collectors on the control of a solar field. Solar Energy, 2014, 99: 215–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Noureldin K, Hirsch T, Pitz-Paal R. Virtual Solar Field-Validation of a detailed transient simulation tool for line focus STE fields with single phase heat transfer fluid. Solar Energy, 2017, 146: 131–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ma L, Xu E, Li J, Xu L, Li X. Analysis and validation of a thermal hydraulic dynamic model for the parabolic trough solar field. Energy, 2018, 156: 430–443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Xu E, Zhao D, Xu H, Li S, Zhang Z, Wang Z, Wang Z. The Badaling 1 MW parabolic trough solar thermal power pilot plant. Energy Procedia, 2015, 69: 1471–1478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Burkholder F, Kutscher C. Heat loss testing of Schott’s 2008 PTR70 parabolic trough receiver. Technical report NREL/TP-550-45633, 2009Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Forristall R. Heat transfer analysis and modeling of a parabolic trough solar receiver implemented in engineering equation solver. Technical report NREL/TP-550-34169, 2003Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Bellos E, Tzivanidis C. A detailed exergetic analysis of parabolic trough collectors. Energy Conversion and Management, 2017, 149: 275–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Cao E. Heat Transfer in Process Engineering. McGraw-Hill Education, 2009Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Strang G. Introduction to Applied Mathematics. Wellesley, MA: Wellesley-Cambridge Press, 1986zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Jiang Y. Adjustability and stability of hydraulic network. Heating Ventilating & Air Conditioning, 1997, 27(3): 1–7 (in Chinese)MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Chaudhry M H. Applied Hydraulic Transients (No. 627 C4). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1979Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Arias D A, Gavilán A, Muren R. Pumping power parasitics in parabolic trough solar fields. In: Proceedings of the 15th International SolarPACES Symposium, Berlin, Germany, 2009Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Munson Bruce R, Young D F, Okiishi T H. Fundamentals of Fluid Mechanics. New York: Wiley, 1990zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Skousen P L. Valve Handbook. 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing, 2004Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Balmer R T. Modern Engineering Thermodynamics—Textbook with Tables Booklet. Academic Press, 2011Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Petela R. Exergy of undiluted thermal radiation. Solar Energy, 2003, 74(6): 469–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ricardo V P. Simplified methodology for designing parabolic trough solar power plants. Dissertation for Doctoral Degree. Florida: University of South Florida, 2011Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Geyer M, Lüpfert E, Osuna R, Esteban A. Eurotrough-parabolic trough collector developed for cost efficient solar power generation. In: 11th SolarPACES International Symposium on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Technologies, Zurich, Switzerland, 2002Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Martínez-Chico M, Batlles F J, Bosch J L. Cloud classification in a mediterranean location using radiation data and sky images. Energy, 2011, 36(7): 4055–4062CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-VerlagGmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linrui Ma
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Zhifeng Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • Ershu Xu
    • 5
  • Li Xu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Solar Thermal Energy and Photovoltaic SystemChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Electrical EngineeringChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Beijing Engineering Research Center of Solar Thermal PowerBeijingChina
  5. 5.School of Energy Power and Mechanical EngineeringNorth China Electric Power UniversityBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations