A new analytical method—First-principle OPTical Intercept Calculation (FirstOPTIC)—is presented here for optical evaluation of trough collectors. It employs first-principle optical treatment of collector optical error sources and derives analytical mathematical formulae to calculate the intercept factor of a trough collector. A suite of MATLAB code is developed for FirstOPTIC and validated against theoretical/numerical solutions and ray-tracing results. It is shown that FirstOPTIC can provide fast and accurate calculation of intercept factors of trough collectors. The method makes it possible to carry out fast evaluation of trough collectors for design purposes. The FirstOPTIC techniques and analysis may be naturally extended to other types of CSP technologies such as linear-Fresnel collectors and central-receiver towers.

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