A strength of parabolic trough concentrating solar power (CSP) plants is the ability to provide reliable power by incorporating either thermal energy storage or backup heat from fossil fuels. Yet these benefits have not been fully realized because thermal energy storage remains expensive at trough operating temperatures and gas usage in CSP plants is less efficient than in dedicated combined cycle plants. For example, while a modern combined cycle plant can achieve an overall efficiency in excess of 55%; auxiliary heaters in a parabolic trough plant convert gas to electricity at below 40%. Thus, one can argue the more effective use of natural gas is in a combined cycle plant, not as backup to a CSP plant. Integrated solar combined cycle (ISCC) systems avoid this pitfall by injecting solar steam into the fossil power cycle; however, these designs are limited to about 10% total solar enhancement. Without reliable, cost-effective energy storage or backup power, renewable sources will struggle to achieve a high penetration in the electric grid. This paper describes a novel gas turbine / parabolic trough hybrid design that combines solar contribution of 57% and higher with gas heat rates that rival that for combined cycle natural gas plants. The design integrates proven solar and fossil technologies, thereby offering high reliability and low financial risk while promoting deployment of solar thermal power.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.