SolTRACE, a new optical modeling code developed by researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is currently being used to model solar power optical systems and analyze their performance. Although originally intended for solar optical applications, the code can also be used to model and characterize general optical systems. The creation of the code evolved out of a need to model more complex optical systems than could be modeled with existing tools. In addition, previous codes were based on outdated operating systems that significantly limited data presentation and output capabilities. SolTRACE is written specifically for the Windows® 2000 operating environment. Ray tracing methods coupled with the memory capabilities and the speed of the Windows® 2000 operating environment provide for accurate and rapid results. Output data presentation allows scatter plots, flux maps and performance graphs to be rapidly displayed and saved. SolTRACE has enabled Department of Energy (DOE) SunLab researchers to model and predict the performance of new, complex solar optical designs that previously could not be modeled. This paper describes the code and presents a comparison of SolTRACE results with measured and earlier modeled data.

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