The SFINCS controls & monitors the solar field as part of the power plant. If the heliostats are thousands of individual burners that heat the receiver, then the SFINCS is their burner management system. The SFINCS includes all the solar field control functions from communication with the heliostats, weather and cameras, to aiming and calibration, to DCS interface for control setpoints and sensor data. The SFINCS User Interface provides the operators with visibility to all of this functionality.
As electricity girds decarbonize, electricity storage, to match supply and demand, is becoming an ever more important issue. Thermal energy storage (TES) using molten salt is a proven, cost effective way of providing large scale bulk energy storage. Integration with a CSP plant or other charging system allows energy gathered to be stored in the form of heated molten salt, and then used as required to meet the demand requirements of the grid or to provide ancillary services.
Together with energy storage, BrightSource extends production capacity. Our solar plants, integrated with thermal energy storage, effectively extend electricity production into later parts of the day and after sundown, when it is valued most by utilities and other power producers. This capability reduces the cost of renewable power, by increasing a plant’s capacity factor – the amount of energy produced in a given day - to offer higher asset utilization. It provides utilities with greater operational flexibility to shape production and account for the variable nature of other intermittent resources. Additionally, it offers utilities and grid operators verifiable value in the form of balancing and shaping capabilities and ancillary services
Making sure the receiver absorbs all the solar flux from the solar field is a critical part of the plant’s performance. Specially designed coatings are applied to the different surfaces of the receiver. The control system models the absorption behaviour and compares it to various sensor data.
'SFINCS', 'Flux Management System', 'Computer Vision', 'Heliostat Design' and 'Wireless & Autonomous Heliostats' images © 2019 Amnon Ziv
FLUX MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
SFINCS flux management calculates the optimal solar flux to apply to the receiver according to current operational conditions. The Aiming Wizard translates flux requirements into individual heliostat aiming points. Inputs to the flux algorithms include DCS setpoints and sensor data, current heliostat data, weather and receiver characteristics. The flux calculations are continuously updated based on the measured flux from both Computer Vision and DCS data.
Advanced weather forecasting is so important to solar field performance – short and long term. From where the clouds are now we can determine how much energy the heliostats will aim at the receiver and then adjust the aiming to achieve even and stable temperatures. Predicting weather aids in setting tomorrow’s operation strategies.
Think of the heliostats as thousands of individual burners that heat the receiver. Precise and efficient SFINCS algorithms calculate the exact aiming point for each heliostat, using the Mirror Shape and Calibration information as well as precise location of each heliostat, receiver panels and other data. The Aiming Wizard provides input to the Flux Management System.
Our system interprets infrared and visual range images to generate a precise mapping of flux and temperatures on the receiver and of the location of heliostat beams. The SFINCS uses this mapping as input to the Flux Management System and Calibration.
Low cost and high performance mechanical design, wireless communications and autonomous power, and maintenance-free. It’s a juggling act between large scale production, easy installation on site, and highly accurate parts that will focus their beams exactly where we want them.
SFINCS USER INTERFACE (SUI)
SFINCS User Interface (SUI) designed to give the plant operator one stop for solar field monitoring & control. Innovative Solar Field Viewer shows the status of thousands of heliostats at a glance. All the information on what’s happening now, trends and images from the field, clearly displayed on the user screen.
WIRELESS & AUTONOMOUS HELIOSTATS
Our heliostats communicate wirelessly with the SFINCS via Access Points distributed throughout the field. Our proprietary protocol is designed for robustness and reliability, and of course secured by encryption. The SFINCS uses roaming to ensure no heliostat loses contact. The heliostats have autonomous power, generating and storing their own power for all their movements. Autonomous power and wireless communications add up to much lower solar field construction costs and time, as well as operational benefits from autonomous emergency responses.
Getting the most of the plant’s area means installing heliostats efficiently. Our layout optimization software uses heliostat parameters, the topology, and sun angles throughout the year to pick the most effective layout and maximize annual output.
Precise geometric & mechanical modelling of heliostat mirror shape across all its different positions and different sun angles yields the expected beam shape for input to SFINCS algorithms. Beam shape is key to achieving precise aiming and thus for solar field performance. The modelling algorithms derive their information from Computer Vision and Calibration.
Precise and efficient Calibration algorithms calculate the heliostat mirror shape, the critical input for determining the beam shape that this heliostat will aim at the receiver. Calibration uses the mirror shape modelling and Computer Vision methods. Calibration provides input to the Aiming Wizard.
SolarFocus is a Performance Analysis and event Investigation for Renewable Energy Projects.
SolarFocus is an advanced business intelligence and data analysis application developed by BrightSource. Designed to support a wide range of renewable energy plants such as central tower, parabolic trough, PV, and wind plants, it
helps to better understand day-to-day operations, performance analysis, problem investigation, and reporting.
Renewable energy plants face unique challenges related to the maintenance and optimization of reliable and stable performance over changing conditions. Accurate electricity generation forecasts are critical both for plant operations and the power grids they supply. BrightSource’s Net Electricity Generation Forecast (NetGen) system combines weather and generation forecasting to meet these challenges.