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Dynamic modeling of a parabolic trough solar thermal power plant with thermal storage using Modelon’s Thermal Power Library®

Modelon March 1, 2017

New publication interesting for solar power modeling and simulation

Modelon is glad to announce the publication of a new article for the field of solar power modeling and simulation with Modelica – Dynamic modeling of parabolic trough solar thermal power plant with thermal storage using Modelica.

Concentrating solar power (CSP) technology with thermal energy storage is an emerging renewable energy technology.

The highlighted work focuses on dynamic models for analyzing and evaluating energy storage concepts and its interaction with the solar field and the power block.

A physical model of a 50 MW CSP plant has been implemented using Modelon’s Thermal Power Library® – thermal solar applications are supported in version 1.13 of the library. The models are developed in a modular, flexible structure with a well-defined interface to easily replace and test modules of various detail and complexity.

Figure 1 shows the model, include turbine island, steam generator, solar field and thermal energy storage system. In addition, a decentralized control configuration has been developed. The model results have been successfully validated against the reference plant key steady-state data.

Dynamic response of the power block has shown expected behavior, and transient durations were comparable with settling times predicted in literature.

Furthermore, the performance of the plant has been evaluated during a typical summer day including effects such as variation of solar irradiance, charging and discharging the heat storage system, and dumping excess heat in the solar field.

The summer day scenario results agreed with published performance of the plant.

Fig. 1 Plant model built using Modelon’s Thermal Power Library®. Sun, control unit, solar field (SF), Thermal energy storage (TES) and power block (PB).

Fig. 2 Solar Thermal Power Plant performance during a clear summer day

Benefits of using the Thermal Power Library® for solar power applications:

  • Accurate full scaled physical-based plant model with control system
  • Easy to analyze and verify energy storage concepts and plant operation strategies
  • Support of both static and transient analysis
  • Suitable to evaluate the optimal energy storage system size, load-following capability and tuning of the control system
  • Evaluate performance at various operating conditions
  • Test new ideas and configurations early in the design phase
  • Easily expand the model by connecting with Modelon, open-source or user-generated Modelica components.

Interested in more details?

Watch a 3 min video demo on how to set up a model based on a predefined library and then run simulations for day-based production strategies, including energy storage and temperature controls of the solar circuit.

Want more information? Contact us!



Montanes, R., Windahl, J., Pålsson, J., Thern, M., Dynamic modeling of parabolic trough solar thermal power plant with thermal storage using Modelica, Heat Transfer Engineering, posted online February 2017.

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