Demonstration of Pilot Scale Large Aperture Parabolic Trough Organic Rankine Cycle Solar Thermal Power Plant in Louisiana


During the calendar year of 2012 the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in conjunction with CLECO Power LLC (CLECO) has constructed and commissioned a pilot scale parabolic trough solar thermal power plant for the first time in Louisiana. The large aperture trough (LAT) solar collectors were provided by Gossamer Space Frames and are coupled with an organic Rankine cycle (ORC) power block provided by ElectraTherm, Inc. for study of the feasibility of cost-effective commercial scale solar thermal power production in Louisiana. Supported by CLECO and providing power to the existing CLECO grid, the implementation of state-of-the-industry collector frames, mirrors, trackers, and ORC power block is studied under various local weather conditions which present varied operating regimes from existing solar thermal installations. The solar collectors provide a design output of 650 kWth and preliminary actual performance data from the system level is presented. The optimal size, configuration and location for such a plant in the given solar resource region are being studied in conjunction with CLECO’s search for optimal renewable energy solutions for the region. The pilot scale size of the facility and implementation of the simpler ORC allow remote operation of the facility and flexibility in operating parameters for optimization studies. The construction of the facility was supported by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Department of Energy, and CLECO. The continued operation of the plant is supported by CLECO Power LLC and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

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Raush, J. , Chambers, T. , Russo, B. and Ritter III, K. (2013) Demonstration of Pilot Scale Large Aperture Parabolic Trough Organic Rankine Cycle Solar Thermal Power Plant in Louisiana. Journal of Power and Energy Engineering, 1, 29-39. doi: 10.4236/jpee.2013.17006.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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