Concentrated solar power (CSP) plants have the potential to reduce the consumption of nonrenewable resources and greenhouse gas emissions in electricity production. In CSP systems, a field of heliostats focuses solar radiation on a central receiver, and energy is then transferred to a thermal power plant at high temperature. However, maximum receiver surface fluxes are low (30–100 W cm−2) with high thermal losses, which has contributed to the limited market penetration of CSP systems. Recently, small (∼4 cm2), laminated micro pin-fin devices have shown potential to achieve concentrated surface fluxes over 100 W cm−2 using supercritical CO2 as the working fluid. The present study explores the feasibility of using these microscale unit cells as building blocks for a megawatt-scale (250 MW thermal) open solar receiver through a numbering-up approach, where multiple microscale unit cell devices are connected in parallel. A multiscale model of the full-scale central receiver is developed. The model consists of interconnected unit cell and module level (i.e., multiple unit cells in parallel) submodels which predict local performance of the central receiver. Each full-scale receiver consists of 3000 micro pin-fin unit cells divided into 250 modules. The performance of three different full-scale receivers is simulated under representative operating conditions. The results show that the microscale unit cells have the potential to be numbered up to megawatt applications while providing high heat flux and thermal efficiency. At the design incident flux and surface emissivity, a global receiver efficiency of approximately 90% when heating sCO2 from 550 °C to 650 °C at an average incident flux of 110 W cm−2 can be achieved.

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