Erlangen, 12 January 2010 The Solar Millennium Group's next collector generation, the HelioTrough, has taken up operation at a commercial parabolic trough power plant in California. The demonstration rig consists of two rows of collectors with a total length of 800 meters and was installed between September and November 2009. In California, the efficiency of the new collector will be measured in commercial operation and under real conditions before it is used in future power plant projects.
The new collector has been integrated at the same power plant as its predecessor Skal-ET, which was likewise developed by Flagsol and has been used for both the Spanish Andasol power plants and the Egyptian plant near Kuraymat. This will allow for comparative testing of the different collector generations.
The highly efficient and cost-effective HelioTrough collector was developed by Solar Millennium's technology subsidiary Flagsol in Cologne, together with partners. Before being installed at the Californian power plant, the new collector was first tested in a factory hall in the Ruhr area to test the novel assembly concept and verify the geometric precision. The early phases of the research and development project were promoted by the German Federal Environment Ministry, whereas the demonstration project in California is supported by the US Department of Energy.
Dr. Henner Gladen, CTO of Solar Millennium AG, is convinced the new collector will be a success: "Although final statements on the collectors' efficiency can only be made once the performance measurements taken over several months are completed, the first interim results are already proving that we have taken a significant step forward with the development of HelioTrough. With HelioTrough we have the most efficient collector on the market and will further expand our technology leadership. With this, our aim of achieving competitiveness of solar-thermal technology with fossil-fuel power plants is one step closer."
The aim when developing the new collector was to simplify its design as much as possible, while concurrently increasing its precision. The HelioTrough collector's is constructed with entirely new geometry. Its simplified design makes it larger, cheaper to install and more efficient than earlier collector designs. Both the mirrors and the absorber pipes of the newly developed collectors are larger as usual. Many components such as the solar tracking device are only needed once per collector. The larger collector units allow for materials to be saved. Hence, In order to achieve the same output, a smaller solar field is sufficient, thus resulting in additional savings.