Simulation and Dispatch Optimization of Solar Power Hybrids

In this Sustainable Energy Seminar, Mike Wagner, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, will discuss the potential for hybrid solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) plants to increase flexibility of renewable generation.

Registration is required for this online seminar through WebEx Events. Click here to register for this and all other seminars as part of the Sustainable Energy Seminar series.

Abstract: Renewable energy technologies offer varying degrees of operational flexibility depending on their capacity to either store energy directly or couple operations to other storage technologies. The cost of renewable technologies also varies substantially, with recent levelized cost of energy for photovoltaic (PV) panels and wind falling in the range of several cents per kilowatt hour, below that of even established conventional fossil or nuclear generation sources. Concentrating solar power (CSP) is a renewable technology that focuses light onto a thermal receiver, generating hot fluid that can be stored directly or sent to a thermodynamic power conversion cycle for electricity production. The integration of storage adds expense to the system but allows for flexible and dispatchable operation, unlike PV or wind generators. We consider a “hybrid” system involving co-located PV+CSP systems that coordinate to produce electricity at lower cost and greater flexibility than either system could in isolation. Operations of the system are optimized over a rolling time horizon using a mixed-integer-linear program approach, and we undertake a design optimization study using gradient-free “black box” nonlinear algorithms to investigate characteristics of low-cost, reliable hybrids. The study concludes that reduction in energy costs in the range of 15-23% are achieved compared to the CSP-only baseline with typical reliability greater 95%, depending on market features.