The cost reduction potential of solar power towers (SPT) is an important issue concerning its market introduction. Raising the steam process temperature and pressure can lead to a cost reduction due to increased overall plant efficiency. Thus, for new receiver configurations a supercritical steam cycle operated at 300 bar / 600°C / 610°C live steam conditions was assumed. The considered systems include innovative direct absorption receivers, either with conventional or beam down heliostat field layouts. For the beam down option the receiver is assumed to be a cylindrical vessel with a flow-through porous absorber structure at the internal lateral area of the cylinder. The direct absorption receiver option consists of a cylindrical barrel with downwards oriented aperture, whose absorber structure at the internal lateral area is cooled by a molten salt film. For the assessment, CFD based methods were developed to be able to examine the receiver efficiency characteristics. Based on the receiver thermal efficiency characteristics and the solar field characteristics the annual performance is evaluated using hourly time series. The assessment methodology is based on the European Concentrated Solar Thermal Roadmap (ECOSTAR) study and enables the prediction of the annual performance and the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). Applying appropriate cost assumptions from literature the LCOE were estimated for each considered SPT concept and compared to tubular receiver concepts with molten salt and liquid metal cooling. The power level of the compared concepts and the reference case is 200 MWel. The sensitivity of the specific cost assumptions was analyzed. No detailed evaluation was done for the thermal storage, but comparable storage utilization and costs were assumed for all cases. At optimized plant parameters the results indicate a LCOE reduction potential of up to 0.5% for beam down and of up to 7.2% for the direct absorption receiver compared to today’s state of the art molten salt solar tower technology.

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