Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

D. Yogi Goswami

Co-Major Professor

Elias Stefanakos


Air cooled condensers, Levelized cost of electricity, Regenerative Rankine cycle, Solar radiation, Solar shading


The performance of parabolic trough based solar power plants over the last 25 years has proven that this technology is an excellent alternative for the commercial power industry. Compared to conventional power plants, parabolic trough solar power plants produce significantly lower levels of carbon dioxide, although additional research is required to bring the cost of concentrator solar plants to a competitive level. The cost reduction is focused on three areas: thermodynamic efficiency improvements by research and development, scaling up of the unit size, and mass production of the equipment. The optimum design, performance simulation and cost analysis of the parabolic trough solar plants are essential for the successful implementation of this technology. A detailed solar power plant simulation and analysis of its components is needed for the design of parabolic trough solar systems which is the subject of this research.

Preliminary analysis was carried out by complex models of the solar field components. These components were then integrated into the system whose performance is simulated to emulate real operating conditions. Sensitivity analysis was conducted to get the optimum conditions and minimum levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). A simplified methodology was then developed based on correlations obtained from the detailed component simulations.

A comprehensive numerical simulation of a parabolic trough solar power plant was developed, focusing primarily on obtaining a preliminary optimum design through the simplified methodology developed in this research. The proposed methodology is used to obtain optimum parameters and conditions such as: solar field size, operating conditions, parasitic losses, initial investment and LCOE. The methodology is also used to evaluate different scenarios and conditions of operation.

The new methodology was implemented for a 50 MWe parabolic trough solar power plant for two cities: Tampa and Daggett. The results obtained for the proposed methodology were compared to another physical model (System Advisor Model, SAM) and a good agreement was achieved, thus showing that this methodology is suitable for any location.