Available Technologies

Autonomous Solar Concentrator

UAH-P-12006-13005-Autonomous Solar Concentrator

Docket: UAH-P-12006, UAH-P-13005

Technology

The Solar Power Tower (SPT) plant is a capital-intensive investment due to the fixed costs of manufacturing each heliostat. SPT plants spend approximately $140 million to produce 100-200 megawatts, a minimum requirement to remain commercially competitive. Over 30% of an SPT plant's cost is directly attributable to heliostats because it takes around $20,000 to build one fully functional heliostat. While the current state-of-the-art SPTs can produce electricity at 10-14 cents per kilowatt-hour (Kwh), most fossil fuel plants produce electricity at 4-5 cents per Kwh, leaving SPTs at a competitive disadvantage.

Researchers at UAH have developed a more cost-effective heliostat by miniaturizing the reflectors and eliminating the field wiring. This system operates autonomously. The use of a Master Control System (MCS) for tracking eliminates the need for expensive processors. The system eliminates virtually all of the costs that are fixed, irrespective of the heliostat size.

With this technology SPTs can produce electricity at a cost of 6-8 cents per Kwh. In the event of power or communication failures or loss of known heliostat orientation, centralized optical means are used to re-establish the required solar power system tracking orientation.

Applications

  • Replaces current bulky heliostats

Advantages

  • Cost efficient
  • Improved optical performance
  • Less susceptible to lightning
  • Reliable

Status

  • State of Development: Proof of concept
  • Licensing Status: Available for licensing
  • Patent Status: Proprietary