Accurate and reliable models are necessary to predict the performance and efficiencies of concentrating solar power plant components and systems such as heliostats and central receiver systems. Heliostat performance is impacted from effects such as wind and gravity, and understanding the impact of these loads on the optical performance can yield heliostat designs that are potentially cheaper, while maintaining required structural stability. Finite element models of heliostats at the National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF) at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM, were developed to simulate displacements under different loading scenarios. Solidworks was used to develop the three-dimensional model of the NSTTF heliostat, and Solidworks Simulation was used to perform the finite element analysis with simulated loads along different points of the heliostat. Static displacement tests were performed on the NSTTF heliostat in order to validate these FEA models. The static test results provide us with a data set in which to properly calibrate the FEA model to better represent the NSTTF heliostat for future simulations of optical performance with impacts of wind and gravity sag. In addition to a single model validation, this real world test provides a method to validate and understand the structural stability of a heliostat under static loads.

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