This paper examines the sensitivity of Rankine cycle plant performance to dry cooling and hybrid (parallel) wet/dry cooling combinations with the traditional wet-cooled model as a baseline. Plants with a lower temperature thermal resource are more sensitive to fluctuations in cooling conditions, and so the lower temperature parabolic trough plant is analyzed to assess the maximum impact of alternative cooling configurations. While low water-use heat rejection designs are applicable to any technology that utilizes a Rankine steam cycle for power generation, they are of special interest to concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies that are located in arid regions with limited water availability. System performance is evaluated using hourly simulations over the course of a year at Daggett, CA. The scope of the analysis in this paper is limited to the power block and the heat rejection system, excluding the solar field and thermal storage. As such, water used in mirror washing, maintenance, etc., is not included. Thermal energy produced by the solar field is modeled using NREL’s Solar Advisor Model (SAM).

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