Feasibility Study of Linear Fresnel Solar Thermal Power Plant in Algeria

  • Hani BeltagyEmail author
  • Sofiane Mihoub
  • Djaffar Semmar
  • Noureddine Said
Open Access
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Energy book series (SPE)


Clean renewable electric power technologies are important in human life, a great number of thermal solar power plants with different configurations are being considered for deployment all over the world. In this work, we propose a feasibility study of concentrated solar power plant to be set up in different sites of Algeria. It is essential that the plant design will be optimized to each specific location. Among the CSP technologies, we will emphasize on the Fresnel solar power plants at different areas of Algerian Sahara. These areas have been chosen for comparison by shifting the plant to different locations; namely Hassi R’mel, Tamanrasset, Beni-Abbes, and El Oued. Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI), solar field surface, block number, the block surface, block panels’ number, absorber surface, and finally thermal power losses in the absorber are the key parameters for optimization and performance evaluation. The calculation results have been depicted for each site. Indeed, the calculation of performance varies from one site to another with DNI mean values of 788.4, 698.7, 671.7, and 636 W/m2, respectively for Tamanrasset, Beni-Abbes, El Oued and Hassi R’mel sites. The surface of solar field, block number, absorber surface and power loss have been also evaluated for the same sites.


Solar energy Solar concentrator mirrors Fresnel solar thermal power plants Performance Thermoelectric plants 

3.1 Introduction

It is universally acknowledged that two of the key technological and economic challenges of the 21st century are energy and environment [1]. Consequently, considerable efforts are being made to effect a gradual transition from systems based on fossil fuels to those based on renewable energy (RE). Electricity generation from solar energy is currently one of the main research areas in the field of renewable energy. In the case of Algeria; the newly adopted version of the National Renewable Energy Program offers the country the possibility to integrate 27% of renewable energy in the national energy mix. Preservation of fossil re-sources; diversification of electricity production and contribution to sustainable development are among challenges that face the country nowadays [2]. It is recognized that solar-thermal energy can play a useful role in generating electrical power despite concerns regarding cost as the thermal source is accessible and ubiquitous [3]. The use of linear Fresnel solar power plant for electricity production, or heat supply is one of the most attractive solutions for developing countries with high sunshine because of the accessible level of technology involved [4].

In this study, our main purpose is to describe Fresnel concentrator solar plant characteristics, through defining its different performances, so that influence of changing location and climatic conditions can be seen on plant cost-effectiveness and productivity for each location i.e. Hassi R’mel, Beni-Abbes, El Oued, and Tamanrasset for Central, West, East and South of Algeria respectively.

3.2 Plant Description

The solar power plant chosen for this study is a 5 MW electric Fresnel concentrator plant which is technically similar to the German Novatec solar plant set up in Calasparra site in Spain (same make and model) (Fig. 3.1).
Fig. 3.1

Power plant layout

The design parameters of the power plant are shown in Table 3.1 (Novatec solar) [5].
Table 3.1

Power plant characteristics

Mirror field

Solar field size

Solar field length

Net opening surface

Field width

Reflector surface

Panel length

Reflector length

21,571 m2

806 m

18,489 m2

16.56 m2

513.6 m2

44.8 m2

0.75 m


Tube diameter

Receiver diameter

Length reflector-absorber

0.07 m

0.6 m

7 m

Power block

Block efficiency

Inlet temperature

Outlet temperature

Power at the generator output


140 °C

270 °C

5 MW electric

3.3 Specification

In this section, we have drawn up a specification in which plant characteristics, namely Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI), solar field surface, block number, have been defined (it should be noted that a block contains reflecting mirrors, absorber tube, and steam separator). We have also defined the block surface, block panels’ number, absorber surface, and finally thermal power losses in the absorber.
  • A. Sizing calculation

The generator output power is equal to: Pg = 5 MWelectric.

In order to supply a small city of 5000 inhabitants, whose daily consumption is 5 kWh per family of electricity, each family is composed of 5 persons.
  • B. Distribution of powers per activity

Polyclinic = 0.2 MW, factory = 1 MW, Administration = 0.5 MW, other = 0.3 MW. The sum is 2 MW, so it remains 3 MW for inhabitants: this is the peak power needed by these places.

Therefore, inhabitants number = 1000 houses, or: x = 1000 * 5 = 5000 people

So, the consumption of the city is 5 MWe, it is distributed as follows:
  • Polyclinic = 0.2 MW

  • Factory = 1 MW

  • Administration = 0.5 MW

  • Inhabitants = 3 MW

  • Others = 0.3 MW

The solar multiple is taken as equal to 1.6 which corresponds to 1.5 h of storage.

The selected locations are:
  • West → Beni-Abbes

  • Center → Hassi R’Mel

  • East → El Oued

  • South → Tamanrasset

Table 3.2 represents site meteorological data.
Table 3.2

Site meteorological data [6]

Site selected


Hassi R’mel

El Oued



(kWh/m2 year)





Tamb, avg (°C)





Insolation duration (h/year)





DNIavg (W/m2)





  • C. Calculation of plant characteristics

  • DNIavg calculation (direct normal irradiance)

$${\text{DNI}}_{{{\text{avg}}}} = \frac{{{\text{DNI}}_{{{\text{annual}}}} {\mkern 1mu} }}{{{\text{ Insolation period }}}} = \frac{{2236}}{{3200}} = 0.698\;{\text{kW/m}}^{2} \times 10^{3}$$
= 698.7 W/m2 for Beni-Abbes and the same calculation is done for the other locations.
  • Calculation of power

$$\left. \begin{aligned} {\text{Generator}}\,{\text{efficiency = 9}} . 5 {\text{\% }} \hfill \\ {\text{Turbine efficience = 38\% }} \hfill \\ {\text{Parasitics efficiency = 98\% }} \hfill \\ \end{aligned} \right\}{\text{we}}\,{\text{will}}\,{\text{obtain}}$$
$$\eta_{\text{bloc}} = 0.95*0.38*0.98 = 0.35 = 35\%$$
$$p_{1} = \frac{{p_{\text{g}} }}{{\eta_{\text{bloc}} }} = \frac{5}{0.35} = 14.28\;{\text{MW}}_{\text{thermal}}$$

P = P1 + P2 = SM * P1, with SM is the solar multiple = 1.6

P = 1.6 * 14.28 = 22.84 MWthermal

So: P2 = 22.84 − 14.28 = 8.56 MWthermal

All efficiencies and powers are shown in Table 3.3.
Table 3.3

Efficiencies and power [5]

Generator output

5 MW (%)

Global efficiency


Generator efficiency


Solar multiple


Turbine efficiency


Number of storage hours

1.5 h

Accessory efficiency


Input temperature

140 °C

Power block efficiency


Output temperature

270 °C

Optical efficiency


Power P1

14.28 MWth

Receiver efficiency


Power P2

8.56 MWth

  • Calculation of field surface for each location

If receiver efficiency = 85% we will obtain: Optical efficiency = 45%

So, global efficiency is obtained:
$$\eta_{\text{global}} = 0.85*0.45 = 0.38 = {\mathbf{38}}\%$$

\(\eta_{\text{global}} = \frac{p}{{A*{\text{DNI}}}} \Rightarrow A = \frac{P}{{n_{g} *{\text{DNI}}}} = \frac{{22.84 \times 10^{3} }}{0.38*0.698} = 86,000\;{\text{m}}^{2}\)

For Beni-Abbes, and the same calculation is done for the other locations.

“A” represents field surface.
  • Calculation of block number and surface of each block

The size of (Novatec) plant solar field is S = 21,571 m2

This plant contains 2 blocks, each block has a power of 0.7 MW electric

\(\frac{A}{S} = \frac{{86{,}000}}{{21{,}571}} = 3.98\) is the number of block for a power of 0.7 MW electric

\(3.98*2 = 8\,{\text{blocks}}\) is the number of block for a power of 1.4 MW electric

“A” is the block surface.

The surface of a block is given by:

\(A = \frac{{86{,}000}}{8} = 10{,}750\,{\text{m}}^{2}\) for Beni-Abbes and the same calculation is done for the other locations.
  • Calculation of actual absorber surface

Absorber unit surface is: L * D

L represents unit length = 44.8 m, D represents receiver diameter = 0.6 m

Aabs; unit = 44.8 * 0.6 = 26.88 m2

Each block contains a unit whose surface is 513.6 m2
$${\text{Unit Number}} = \frac{\text{Block surface}}{\text{Unit surface}}$$
$$\frac{{10,750}}{{513.6}} = 21\,{\text{units}}$$

So: Aabs actual = Number of units multiplied by unit absorber surface.

= 21 * 26.88 = 564.48 m2 is the absorber surface in a 0.7 MW block.

Total surface of absorbers is calculated by multiplying the result of block number by the actual absorber surface.

STotal = 8 * 564.48 = 4515.8 m2 for Beni-Abbes and the same calculation is done for the other locations.
  • Calculation of lost power

Ploss = UL * Aabs actual * ΔT

We have: Tin = 140 °C, Toutput = 270 °C, UL = 5 W/m2 °C

Ploss = 5 * 4515.8 * 130 = 2.93 * 106 W for Beni-Abbes and the same calculation is done for the other locations. Final results are shown in Table 3.4
Table 3.4

Plant characteristics in each site

Selected locations


Hassi R’mel

El Oued


DNIavg (W/m2)





Solar field surface





Block number





Block surface (m2)





Unit number of a block





Actual absorber surface (m2)





Total surface of absorbers (m2)





Lost power (W)

2.93 × 106

3.19 × 106

3 × 106

3.5 × 106

3.4 Results Analysis

As a comparison, we want to check the results found in the first part, then validate them through drawing up specifications in which different plant performances are defined, while using a global calculation method. These performances have been calculated, through using a DNI calculated on the basis of annual normal irradiation ratio to sunshine hours. We propose to verify hereafter these results with those found by SAM simulation software [7]. Simulation of energy performance is carried out in another study using a SAM simulation software, as well as the techno-economic study [8]. A comparative study is made while taking a representative day of the year (21st June, the longest/hottest), we took the DNI values, and then recalculate the power output to adjust the results for each site.

The results are shown in Table 3.5.
Table 3.5

Comparative study

Selected sites

Hassi R’mel



El Oued

DNIavg (W/m2) [M1]





Power (MW) [Ml]





Power (MW) [SAM]





Error (%)





M1 shown in the table depicts the first calculation method (the global method set forth in the specifications). According, this comparative study aiming at the verification of the results obtained in the global method with those calculated by SAM simulation software, we notice that the output power varies from 4.74 to 5.43 MW, so we can see that there is a slight difference between powers calculated by both methods, and according to the calculations show a difference of less than 8%. The results found by the global method used for the cases studied here are quite satisfactory.

3.5 Conclusion

The study we carried out on Linear Fresnel Concentrator Solar Power Plant allowed us to understand the operating system of this type of plant, as well as the parameters affecting its operation and performances. We have also noticed that the blocking and shadowing effects between mirrors and the cosine effect represent a great obstacle for the power plant cost-effectiveness and productivity. According to this study, we were able to notice the importance of a good choice of the power plant site, as each site is characterized by its direct radiation, ambient temperature, sunshine hours, wind speed, latitude, height above sea level, and other factors which play a key role in the power plant cost-effectiveness and productivity. This is clearly shown in the results obtained according to which the plant different parameters and characteristics vary when it is shifted in different sites.

According to the results obtained for the plant different characteristics in the 4 sites, we can see that Algeria has great opportunities to choose this kind technology i.e. linear Fresnel concentrator solar power plant.

Finally, we can conclude that, among the above-mentioned sites, the most suitable on performance basis is Tamanrasset followed by Beni-Abbes, then El Oued, and finally Hassi R’mel.



The authors are grateful to Dr. Said Noureddine from CDER (Renewable Energy Development Center, Algeria) for his constant guidance and critical review in improving the manuscript.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of TechnologyBlida UniversityBlidaAlgeria
  2. 2.Annexe de Sougueur, Faculté de Sciences de La MatièreTiaret UniversityTiaretAlgeria
  3. 3.Renewable Energies Department, Faculty of TechnologyBlida UniversityBlidaAlgeria
  4. 4.Renewable Energy Development Center (EPST/CDER)Bouzareah, AlgiersAlgeria

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