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Benchmarking of site parameters for Solar Thermal Power Plants

ABSTRACT

The need for renewable energy is increasing by the day and arguably solar energy is the most
widely available form of renewable energy. Hence it is essential to be able to identify whether or
not a given location is suitable for setting up a Solar Thermal Power Plant. But comparison is
always a subjective thing and hence there should be established benchmark values with which any
site can be compared. This benchmark values can be considered as analogous to the Carnot cycle in
air standard cycles. The project presents the attempts that have been made to arrive at such
benchmarks for Solar Thermal Power Plant sites. To proceed with this, one first needs to understand
all the Viable parameters which affect the decision of site selection. Hence an exhaustive,
complete and non-redundant set of all the parameters that affect the selection was identified and
were categorized into three categories namely, Technical, Social and Economic factors. These
criteria include Sunshine hours in technical factors; Land cost in Economic factors and Public
support in Social factors, etc. After extensive research, a quantitative domain was assigned to each
criterion which was then normalized to obtain the constraints subjected to which the optimization
problem is to be solved. Then the problem was mathematically modelled into an optimization
problem by maximizing or minimizing the criteria as per the requirement. This optimization
problem was solved using Linear Programming Method because all the viable parameters are
mutually independent. Each category was separately evaluated and weights were assigned using the
Satis scale and separate objective functions were developed for each category. The three categories
were then compared against each other to obtain weights for the categories and the final objective
function was defined as the summation of the product of these weights and their respective
objective functions. This objective function was optimized subject to the constraints and the final

result was obtained in the normalized form of the criteria. Hence, the quantitative conditions for the
ideal site were obtained and validated.
Thus by using mathematical modeling and optimization methods, one can determine the
ideal quantitative conditions for obtaining the benchmark values for a solar thermal power plant.
The thus obtained results can be integrated into any of the MCDM methods and therefore can be
used for comparison with the other sites. This methodology can also be used to evaluate the ideal
conditions for any type of problem given that the viable criteria are identified.

CONTENTS
Title page.1
Acknowledgements..2
Certificate.....3
Abstract....4
Work division...........................................................................................6
1. Introduction..........7
2.Working of Solar Thermal Power Plants......8
3. Viable Parameters........9
4. Weights of the Criteria.............10
5. Mathematical Modelling......................................................................13
6. Solving the Mathematical Model.........................................................14
7. Case Study ...........................................................................................16
Summary & Conclusion.......18
References....19

INTRODUCTION

The demand for energy is ever increasing in the modern-day world and the depletion of the
conventional resources is taking place at an even faster rate. The per annum energy consumption of
the world has hit a record value of 141,852 billion kilowatt hours per annum. The energy
consumption in India alone has increased by 91% in a span of 10 years. These statistics can be seen
in the table that follows:

Hence to meet these ever increasing demands and to be able to supply power
continuously, one has to fall back on the renewable ways of generating energy. Out of the many
such renewable methods that are available for electricity generation, using Solar Thermal Power
Plants for electricity generation is one of the most established methods. Presently, the worlds
largest solar plant is set in Mojave Desert, Palm springs, California. It spreads over 3,800acres of
land and produces 10,000 Mega-watts of solar energy.
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If not in such high quantities, steps should be taken to utilise maximum amount of solar
energy that is available, especially in a developing country like India. But setting up solar plants is
not an easy task as the site identification is a very crucial step which will determine the capacity of
the plant. Hence there must be some standard set of criteria which must be considered and carefully
scrutinised for any given site before building a Solar Thermal Power Plant in that site. Hence it is
very important that one should understand the working of a Solar Thermal Power Plant.

WORKING OF SOLAR THERMAL POWER PLANTS


Solar collectors capture and concentrate sunlight to heat synthetic oil called therminol, which then
heats water to create steam. The steam is piped to an onsite turbine-generator to produce electricity,
which is then transmitted over power lines. On cloudy days, the plant has an auxiliary system which
generates electricity. This can be seen in the picture below:

From this one can understand that to set up a Solar Thermal Power Plant, not just sunlight
but many other resources like water body availability, grid connection availability,etc have to be
checked. Hence there is a need to identify the Viable set of criteria which affect the decision
making.

VIABLE PARAMETERS
Many parameters will affect the selection of a site for Solar Thermal Power Plant set up.
These parameters include solar irradiation, wind speed, clearance factor, Land cost, public support,
economic incentives, etc. All these factor should be carefully analysed and arranged together to
form anexhaustive, complete and non-redundant set of criteria. Hence the Viable set of criteria for a
Solar Thermal Power Plant was found out and was further classified into three categories namely,
Technical, Social and Economic Factors. Each criterion is again divided into sub categories as
shown below:

No/:

Criteria

Min/Ma

Range (units)

x
Technical Factors:
A1
A2
A3
A4
A5

Sunshine Hours
Standard Coal
Water Availability
Site Accessibility
Grid Connection Distance

Max
Max
Min
Min
Min

6 < X1 < 10 (hrs)


2 < X2 < 4 (tons/acre)
0 < X3 < 5 (km)
0 < X4 < 1.5 (km)
0 < X5 < 150 (km)

Min
Max

968 < X6 < 1210 (10,000/acre)


5 < X7 < 9 (on a scale of 1 9 )

Min
Max
Max

2 < X8 < 7 (on a scale of 1 9 )


6 < X9 < 9 (on a scale of 1 9 )
5 < X10 < 9 (on a scale of 1 9 )

Economic Factors:
B1
B2

Land Cost
Subsidies and Incentives

Social Factors:
C1
C2
C3

Ecological Environmental Influence


Pollutant Emission Reduction Benefits
Public Support

But as can be seen each criteria has its own units and hence there is no uniformity among the
criteria. Hence the criteria must be normalised by using either of the standard normalisation
techniques, namely

Method 1

Method 2

Method 3

Method 4

Method 3 and 4 can be used when there is a functional value that defined the variable. Also,
Method 2 might result in 0 values when F i(a) takes the minimum value. Hence Method 1 has been
used to normalise the criteria and the normalised values of the criteria are as shown below:
0.6 < C1 < 1
0.625 < C2< 1
0 < C3< 1
0 < C4< 1
0< C5< 1
0.8< C6< 1
0.556 < C7< 1
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0.285 < C8< 1


0.667 < C9 < 1
0.556 < C10 < 1
These are the normalised non-dimensional values of the criteria and hence can be compared
against each other. Since apples cannot be compared with oranges, while comparing two criteria we
need to ensure that we can indeed compare them against each other. Hence each set of criteria were
compared against each other separately as explained in the next section.

WEIGHTS OF THE CRITERIA


Satis scale is a standard method to assign weights to criteria when compared against each
other. Each set of criteria was compared individually and weights were assigned using this scale to
obtain the weighted matrix. The normalised weights of the criteria were then obtained by
calculating the Eigen vectors of the matrix. To validate the weights that were obtained, Consistency
Ratio (CR) values were obtained for each matrix. Since all the CR values were obtained lesser than
0.1, implies that all the weight values are consistent.
The weighted matrix and the normalised weights obtained for each criteria is as shown
below.

Table for Technical factors weight calculation:


A1
A2
A3
A4
A5

A1
1
0.2
0.334
0.112
0.334

A2
5
1
0.5
0.5
2

A3
3
2
1
0.5
0.5

A4
9
2
2
1
2

A5
3
0.5
2
0.5
1

By calculating the Eigen vector values for this matrix we obtain the normalised weights for each
criterion as mentioned below,
W1 = 0.4962
W2 = 0.1389
W3 = 0.1555
W4 = 0.0634
W5 = 0.1460
The Consistency ratio (CR) for this table is obtained as; CR = 0.0815 < 0.1 hence the weights that
are obtained are correct only.
Similarly, The weighted matrix for Social and economic factors are as shown below:

B1
B2

B1
1
0.2

B2
5
1

Therefore we get:
W6 = 0.833
W7 = 0.1667
And CR = 0< 0.1 hence the weights are consistent

C1
C2
C3

C1
1
5
3

C2
0.2
1
0.2

C3
0.334
5
1

Hence
W8 = 0.1022

W9 = 0.6864
W10 = 0.2114
And CR = 0.0555 < 0.1 and hence these weights are also consistent

MATHEMATICAL MODELLING
All the Viable criteria are independent of each other. Hence the current problem can be
defined as a Linear Programming Problem. Therefore the Objective functions for each set of the
criteria i.e.; Technical, Economic and Social, can be written as shown below
Z1 = C1*W1 + C2*W2 C3*W3 C4*W4 C5*W5
Z2 = - C6*W6 + C7*W7
Z3 = - C8*W8 + C9*W9 + C10*W10
Now to obtain the final weights, each of these criteria is compared against the other using
the same method as was used above and a weighted matrix is obtained. The Eigen vectors of this
matrix are calculated to obtain the final weights Wa ,Wb and Wc.

Z1
Z2
Z3

Z1
1
0.2
0.112

Z2
5
1
0.334

Z3
9
3
1

Therefore,
Wa = 0.7482
Wb = 0.1804
Wc = 0.0714
CR value is obtained as 0.07 < 0.1, hence even these weights are consistent.
Therefore the final Objective Function can be written as
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Z = Wa*Z1 + Wb*Z2 +Wc*Z3

SOLVING THE MATHEMATICAL MODEL


Therefore, on substituting all the weights in the above equation, we obtain Z as a function
of Cis as shown below.
Z = 0.3712*C1 + 0.1039*C2 0.1163*C3 0.0474*C4 0.1092*C5 0.1502*C6 + 0.0300*C7
-

0.0073*C8 + 0.0490*C9 + 0.0151*C10.

Therefore Z has tobe maximised subject to the constraints of C1, C2 etc.


On maximising, the values of Cis were obtained and these values were de-normalised to obtain the
corresponding Quantitative values. The obtained optimal solution is as shown below:
C1 = 1 X1 = 10 hrs
C2 = 1 X2 = 4 tons/acre
C3 = 0 X3 = 0 km
C4 = 0 X4 = 0 km
C5 = 0 X5 = 0 km
C6 = 0.8 X6 = 968 ten thousands/acre
C7 = 1 X7 = 9 (on a scale of 1 9)
C8 = 0.285 X8 = 2 (on a scale of 1 9)
C9 = 1 X9 = 9 (on a scale of 1 9)
C10 = 1 X10 = 9 (on a scale of 1 9)
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And the maximum value of Z at these values is Z =0.447.


Therefore a benchmark value has been set for Z as 0.447 and can be compared with Z values
obtained for the other sites when the required data is available and the relative efficiency of that site
can be calculated.

CASE STUDY

Quantitative data corresponding to four Solar Thermal Power Plant sites were obtained and the
value of Z corresponding to these two sites was calculated. These Z values were then compared to
the benchmark values of Z to determine the relative efficiency of these sites.
These Z values can also be compared with each other and the site with the maximum Z
values is considered as the more suitable site.

Sunshine Hours ( C1 )
Standard Coal Savings ( C2 )
Water availability ( C3 )
Site accessibility ( C4 )
Grid connection distance ( C5 )
Land cost ( C6 )
Subsidies and Incentives ( C7 )
Ecological Environmental influence ( C8 )
Pollutant Emission Reduction Benefits ( C9 )
Public Support ( C10 )

Site 1
0.9
0.6
0.6
0.2
0.6
0.97
0.87
0.4
0.72
0.4

Site 2
0.9
0.6
0.6
0.2
0.8
0.87
0.69
0.4
0.72
0.7

Site 3
0.9
0.6
0.9
0.4
0.9
0.9
0.69
0.4
0.75
0.7

Site 4
0.9
0.6
0.5
0.3
0.4
0.92
0.7
0.4
0.75
0.6

The data is substituted in the maximization function Z and the following values of Z are obtained
For Site 1, Z1= 0.2071
For Site 2, Z2= 0.1774
For Site 3, Z3= 0.1271
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For Site 4, Z4= 0.2297


Thus when arranged in a decreasing order
Z4 > Z1 > Z2 > Z3
Relative closeness to the Ideal site for each of the Selected sites can be evaluated by the following
formula,
Carnot value of the site= (Z value obtained for the site) / (Z value of the ideal site)*100
Therfore the carnot values of the Sites are
Carnot value of site 1= (0.2071/0.447)*100 = 46.33%
Carnot value of site 2= (0.1774/0.447)*100 = 39.68%
Carnot value of site 3= (0.1271/0.447)*100 = 28.43%
Carnot value of site 4= (0.2297/0.447)*100 = 51.39%
Thus the maxiumcarnot value among the given sites is obtained as 51.39%.
Hence, among the given sites the most ideal location for the allotment of solar Thermal
Power Plant is Site-4, followed by Site-1 and the least suitable sie for installation is Site-3.

Summary & Conclusions


The importance of Renewable energy is increasing everday. The search for extracting or obtaining
the maximum energy and utilization of minimum resources leads to the need for the current site
evaluation method.
The Solar thermal plant sites are evaluated based on the exhaustive criterion sets defined
according to the need of the Solar thermal Plant. The criterion are given set limits for range and
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then are normalized to fit the maximisation function. These criteria are compared against each other
in a pair wise comparision matrix within their category and weights are assigned to them with
respect to their category. Then the categories are again compared among themselves with pair wise
comparision matrix and the values of the weights are assigned to them. Thus the final weight
matrix is defined. The Consistency ratios are identified for the individual categories and as a whole
andit was found that the deviations were under 0.1, thus are consistent and weights can be used for
further evaluation of sites.
The function to evaluate the sites based on the criteria and their weights is written and the
values to be maximum are added while those to be minimum are subtracted. This maximisation
function is solved for the ideal site values..
Ideal site value is obtained by following optimization techniques and ideal Z value of the
site is found. Where Z is the normalized value of the site under evaluation. The site data of the
proposed sites are taken and were substituted in the Z function to find the Z values of the individual
sites. The thus obtained values are analysed to find their carnot value of the respective sites. The
sites satisfying the minimum criteria is first filtered according to the requirement and the best
possible site is known for the Z value or the carnot values.

REFERENCES
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_consumpt
ion
http://time.com/3723592/inside-the-worlds-largestsolar-power-plant/

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http://www.nexteraenergyresources.com/what/solar_
works.shtml

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