The importance of reducing the thermal emittance of the receiver surface on the cost effective operation of intermediate and high temperature (≥ 400 °C) solar thermal electric power plants is discussed. Computer codes for seven systems (point and line focus) are used to independently determine optimum operating conditions for selective (low emittance) and nonselective receiver surfaces. The detailed computer calculations show excellent agreement with numbers generated from a simplified analytical model indicating that system dynamics are a secondary effect in this sensitivity analysis. This study reveals that improvements in system cost effectiveness of 5 to 10 percent for desert environments can be produced by reducing receiver emittance from 0.95 to 0.3. The system operating temperature is determined not to be a critical parameter and little effect is observed on the system capacity factor.

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