The overall objective of this project is to provide and demonstrate technical solutions for the use of state-of-the-art concentrated solar power system (CSP) coupled to micro-gas turbines (MGT) to produce electricity. The intended system will be modular and capable of producing electricity in the range of 3-10 kW. The aim is to make such a system available to provide energy needs for domestic and small commercial applications. For larger energy needs, the units can be stacked by virtue of their modular nature. It can be integrated with medium and long term energy storage and/or co-firing with conventional fuels. The primary technical challenge is to enable the production of small scale cost effective, efficient, reliable and easy to maintain units.
To achieve these objectives, research and development will be conducted in all aspects of the system leading to a full scale demonstration. The parabolic dish concentrator technology will be improved to reduce weight, improve tracking system and increase concentration ratio. A receiver suitable for this application will be optimised. This requires the development of absorption materials and improving heat transfer and cooling technology. A novel feature of this project is the replacement of the Stirling engine which is typically used in this size of application, to convert thermal energy to mechanical power, with an MGT. Stirling engines suffer from problems such as high cost, complexity and poor reliability. A recently developed MGT will be optimised in conjunction with the CSP system. The demonstration activity will focus testing on the primary components. Although thermal storage and hybridisation with other fuels are beyond the scope of this project in terms of demonstration, they will be considered in the overall system optimisation from both technical and economic points of view.