American Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences

A Novel Prototype of a Small-Scale Solar Power Plant: dynamic Simulation and Thermoeconomic Analysis

Annamaria Buonomano, Francesco Calise and Maria Vicidomini

DOI : 10.3844/ajeassp.2016.770.788

American Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Volume 9, Issue 4

Pages 770-788


The paper presents an innovative prototype of a solar power plant, purposely designed for small-scale applications such as residential and/or small commercial buildings. The system consists of 10 kWe Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) plant and innovative solar thermal collectors. In particular, 235 m2 of flat-plate evacuated solar collectors are designed to heat diathermic oil up to 180°C. A variable volume pump is managed by a feedback controller in order to obtain the desired outlet set point temperature for the different weather/load conditions. The hot diathermic oil passes through a storage tank, which is adopted with the purpose to reduce the oscillations due to the solar radiation variability. By means of the tank, a better exploitation of solar energy is also achieved, reducing the time-shift between production and demand. For achieving a constant ORC inlet temperature the tank outlet hot diathermic oil passes through a gas-fired burner, which provides auxiliary additional thermal energy. Therefore, the ORC simultaneously produces electrical energy and low temperature (45°C) cogeneration heat. This solar power plant was dynamically simulated in TRNSYS environment. The simulation tool includes a novel model in order to simulate the dynamic thermal behavior of solar collectors, whereas the ORC dynamic was simulated by means of a performance data map provided by the manufacturer. The model also includes a tool for the calculation of energy and economic parameters and the evaluation of the optimum thermoeconomic configuration. Results indicated that the best pay-back period is obtained for a solar field area of about 200 m2 and a solar fraction of about 75%. Nevertheless, the system may be competitive from the economic point of view only if incentives can be made available, as commonly occurs for renewable applications, i.e., solar systems. This prototypal system aims to become a potential solar power system for small residential and/or commercial buildings. The presented study will be suitably used as a basis for the installation of a working prototype in located Naples, Italy.


© 2016 Annamaria Buonomano, Francesco Calise and Maria Vicidomini. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.