A finite-volume-based model of a molten-salt thermocline tank is developed to achieve simulation at a sufficient level of detail but at low computational cost. Combination of this storage model with a system-level power tower plant model enables yearlong thermocline tank simulation in response to historical weather data and corresponding plant control. The current study simulates a 100 MWe molten-salt power tower plant to optimize annual plant performance as a function of the thermocline tank size and the plant solar multiple.
Thermocline storage performance is characterized by the effectiveness of the tank in storing and delivering utilizable heat for steam generation and power production. Additional system-level metrics include thermal energy discard due to saturation of storage capacity and annual plant capacity factor. Economic assessment of the power output is characterized with a simple levelized cost of electricity. Minimum cost is observed with a solar multiple of 3 and a thermocline tank storage capacity of 16 hours.