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Design of a Fully Concentrated Solar Powered Electricity Generation Plant for the UAE

Ali, Hessa Abbas
A Master of Science thesis in Mechanical Engineering by Hessa Abbas Ali entitled, “Design of a Fully Concentrated Solar Powered Electricity Generation Plant for the UAE”, submitted in September 2018. Thesis advisor is Dr. Mohamed Gadalla. Soft and hard copy available.
The increase in the world’s demand for electricity and the depletion of the fossil fuels used in conventional power plant systems raises the need for different renewable sources of electricity generation. Concentrated solar panel (CSP) is a leading solar technology, with parabolic trough (PT) collectors being the most efficient and advanced type of CSP. This thesis aims to propose and analyze a viable 50 MWe output CSP-PT plant to be integrated into the grid system of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The simulation and analysis is performed using the System Advisor Model (SAM) and EnergyPLAN software. SAM is used to model the design of the plant and obtain the profiles of the energy supply throughout the year, which is fed to EnergyPLAN. The designed plant includes a thermal energy storage (TES) system to ensure 24-hour daily electricity generation with a 10-hour generation from direct solar energy and 14-hour generation through the use of energy stored in the TES. Three heat transfer fluids (HTFs) – molten salt, water and Therminol VP-1 – are also compared through modeling two configurations and the most efficient combination is selected. The result of this study is a feasible solar 50 MWe power generation plant that operates 24-hours per day by utilizing a 2 x 8 panel CSP-PT field, each panel being 12 m x 12 m, a two-tank direct TES, each tank being 6,604 m³ in volume, with molten salt as the HTF and storage fluid, running a Rankine cycle power block with an open feed water heater. Economic analysis of the model is presented and evaluated in detail, using EnergyPLAN. The internal rate of return (IRR) at the end of the project is found to be 21.40%, which is within the typical IRR limits (16-25%), and the project’s minimum debt service coverage ratio (DSCR) is 1.42, which is much higher than the least expected minimum value of 1.3. The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) is 15.60 cents/kWh and the payback period on the monetary investment of this plant is 17.3 years. This study proves the feasibility of the realization of a fully solar-powered electricity plant.
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