This paper presents the concept of indirect thermochemical upgrading of low/mid temperature solar heat, and demonstration of its integration into a high efficiency novel hybrid power generation system. The proposed system consists of an intercooled chemically recuperated gas turbine (SOLRGT) cycle, in which the solar thermal energy collected at about 220°C is first transformed into the latent heat of vapor supplied to a reformer and then via the reforming reactions to the produced syngas chemical exergy. The produced syngas is burned to provide high temperature working fluid to a gas turbine. The solar-driven steam production helps to improve both the chemical and thermal recuperation in the system. Using well established technologies including steam reforming and low/mid temperature solar heat collection, the hybrid system exhibits promising performance: the net solar-to-electricity efficiency, based on the gross solar thermal energy incident on the collector, was predicted to be 25–30%, and it can reach up to 35% when the solar share is reduced. In comparison to conventional CRGT system, 30% of fossil fuel saving is feasible with the solar thermal share of 26%, and the system overall efficiency reaches 51.2% to 53.6% when the solar thermal share is increased from 11 to 28.8%. The overall efficiency is about 5.7%-points higher than that of a comparable intercooled CRGT system without solar assist. Due to the introduction of steam into the combustion chamber, production of NOx is near zero, and the reduction of fossil fuel use results in a commensurate 23% reduction of CO2 emissions as compared with the comparable intercooled CRGT system without solar assist.

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