Parabolic trough can be considered the state of the art for solar thermal power plants thanks to the almost 30 years experience gained in SEGS and, recently, Nevada Solar One plants in US and Andasol plants in Spain. One of the major issues that limits the wide diffusion of this technology is the high investment cost of the solar field and, particularly, of the solar collector. For this reason, since several years research activity has been trying to develop new solutions with the aim of cost reduction. This work compares commercial Fresnel technology with conventional parabolic trough plant based on synthetic oil as heat transfer fluid at nominal conditions and evaluates yearly average performances. In both technologies, no thermal storage system is considered. In addition, for Fresnel, a Direct Steam Generation (DSG) case is investigated. Performances are calculated by a commercial code, Thermoflex®, with dedicated component to evaluate solar plant. Results will show that, at nominal conditions, Fresnel technology have an optical efficiency of 67% which is lower than 75% of parabolic trough. Calculated net electric efficiency is about 19.25%, while parabolic trough technology achieves 23.6%. In off-design conditions, the gap between Fresnel and parabolic trough increases because the former is significantly affected by high radiation incident angles. The calculated sun-to-electric annual average efficiency for Fresnel plant is 10.2%, consequence of the average optical efficiency of 38.8%, while parabolic trough achieve an overall efficiency of 16%, with an optical one of 52.7%. An additional case with Fresnel collector and synthetic oil outlines differences among investigated cases. Finally, because part of performance difference between PT and Fresnel is simple due to different definitions, additional indexes are introduced in order to make a consistent comparison.

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