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Publication Name: Demonstration of Pilot Scale Large Aperture Parabolic Trough Organic Rankine Cycle Solar Thermal Power Plant in Louisiana
Original File Name Searched: JPEE_2013112816412444.pdf
Page Number: 001

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Journal of Power and Energy Engineering, 2013, 1, 29-39 29 Published Online December 2013 (

Demonstration of Pilot Scale Large Aperture Parabolic Trough Organic Rankine Cycle Solar Thermal Power Plant in Louisiana

Jonathan R. Raush1, Terrence L. Chambers1, Ben Russo2, Kenneth A. Ritter III1

1College of Engineering, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, USA; 2CLECO Power LLC, Pineville, USA. Email:

Received August 2013


During the calendar year of 2012 the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in conjunction with CLECO Power LLC (CLECO) has constructed and commissioned a pilot scale parabolic trough solar thermal power plant for the first time in Louisiana. The large aperture trough (LAT) solar collectors were provided by Gossamer Space Frames and are coupled with an organic Rankine cycle (ORC) power block provided by ElectraTherm, Inc. for study of the feasibility of cost-effective commercial scale solar thermal power production in Louisiana. Supported by CLECO and providing power to the existing CLECO grid, the implementation of state-of-the-industry collector frames, mirrors, trackers, and ORC power block is studied under various local weather conditions which present varied operating regimes from exist- ing solar thermal installations. The solar collectors provide a design output of 650 kWth and preliminary actual perfor- mance data from the system level is presented. The optimal size, configuration and location for such a plant in the given solar resource region are being studied in conjunction with CLECO’s search for optimal renewable energy solutions for the region. The pilot scale size of the facility and implementation of the simpler ORC allow remote operation of the facility and flexibility in operating parameters for optimization studies. The construction of the facility was supported by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Department of Energy, and CLECO. The continued opera- tion of the plant is supported by CLECO Power LLC and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Keywords: Concentrating Solar Power; Parabolic Trough; Solar Thermal; Organic Rankine Cycle; Power Plant

1. Introduction

The need for a diversified energy portfolio for stationary power generation is widely accepted, and solar energy is projected to provide a significant basis for this continued diversification during the coming decades [1]. While sig- nificant solar resource (greater than 6.0 kWh/m2/day) exists in the southwest continental United States (US), much of the country is covered by a band of moderate solar resource (4.0 - 6.0 kWh/m2/day); it is in this band that the US state of Louisiana resides. Currently, concen- trating solar power (CSP) offers the most economical commercial scale solar power option and there are many examples of existing or planned commercial scale instal- lations in areas of high solar resource [2]. There are very few, however, commercial or pilot scale installations in areas of moderate solar resource and none in Louisiana [3]. The introduction of a pilot scale parabolic trough solar thermal power plant in Louisiana will allow the local demonstration of several key technical components of solar power as well as further the field as a whole with

the development and validation of analytical models for further planning and innovation. A pilot scale facility would permit low-cost testing of various component tech- nologies including concentrating solar collectors, thermal storage, and power blocks. In addition, flexibility in op- erational and testing configurations, including remote mon- itoring capabilities, would provide the opportunity for generating the necessary data for development and vali- dation of full scale analytical models and feasibility stu- dies for the region.

2. Background

2.1. Project Development

The investigation of CSP installations in areas of mod- erate solar resource is a need that has yet to be fully ful- filled. In addition, the development of distributed genera- tion, small scale (1 - 10 MW) solar installations offers several potential advantages including savings in trans- mission and distribution, improved reliability, and the potential to offset retail costs of electricity as opposed to

Copyright © 2013 SciRes.


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