Senstivity of concentrating solar thermal power plant revenue to different operational strategies
- Process Systems Engineering
- Focus/Key Topic:
Concentrating solar power (CSP) power plants that incorporate thermal energy storage in the form of molten salts promise to play an important role in a future renewable energy grid. Inclusion of thermal energy storage capability allows for the CSP power plant to provide so-called dispatchable energy to the grid. This is increasingly important in a grid with high penetration of variable renewable energy (VRE) sources. Indeed, the value of the plant rises with the flexibility to generate at times where the highest electricity revenue is offered to the plant operator. In our research, we calculate optimal strategies for storage/generation in order to maximize power plant revenue. These optimisations are performed using forecasts of direct solar irradiance and market energy price to determine the best real-time operation of the power plant storage system. It is not yet clear, however, how sensitive the plant revenue is to inaccuracies in these forecasts and the strategies based upon them. The student will therefore perform systematic perturbations of the power plant operational strategy and investigate the effect on the power plant revenue using historical data in order to estimate the effect of inaccurate forecasts of energy market price and incident direct solar irradiance on power plant revenue. The successful candidate will preferably have experience in programming in C++ and/or python, and experience in, or a willingness to learn, how to devise constrained optimisation problems.