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Thermocline Storage for Concentrated Solar Power (Mechanical Project)

Solar Tower Power Plants with thermal energy storage are a promising technology for dispatchable renewable energy in the near future. Storage integration makes possible to shift the electricity production to more profitable peak hours.

Usually two tanks are used to store cold and hot fluids, but this means both higher related investment costs and difficulties during the operation of the variable volume tanks. Another solution can be a single tank thermocline storage in a multi-layered configuration. In such tank both latent and sensible fillers are employed to decrease the related cost by up to 30% and maintain high efficiencies.

The Master thesis hereby presented describes the modelling and implementation of a thermocline-like multi-layered single tank storage in a STPP. The research work presents a comprehensive methodology to determine under which market structures such devices can outperform the more conventional two tank storage systems. As a first step the single tank is modelled by means of differential energy conservation equations. Secondly the tank geometrical design parameters and materials are taken accordingly with the applications taken into consideration. Both the steady state and dynamic models have been implemented in an existing techno-economic tool developed in KTH, in the CSP division (DYESOPT).

The results show that under current cost estimates and technical limitations the multi-layered solid PCM storage concept is a better solution when peaking operating strategies are desired, as it is the case for the two-tier South African tariff scheme. In this case the IRR of an optimal designed power plant can be decreased by 2.1%. However, if a continuous operation is considered, the technology is not always preferred over the two tank solution, yet is a cheaper alternative with optimized power plants. As a result the obtained LCOE can be decreased by 2.4%.
Source: KTH
Author: Ferruzza, Davide

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