Solar Energy Systems under Impact of Aeolian Sand and Dust

Kalender-Wevers, C., Winkelmann, U., Höffer, R. (2013)

in: The Fifth International Conference on Structural Engineering, Mechanics and Computation (SEMC2013), Cape Town, South Africa, 2.-4. September 2013


Renewable solar energy systems are situated and planned in areas, where a high solar radiation is available. Usually, these zones are desert regions and therefore a considerable amount of aeolian dust and sand transport can be expected during daily local wind and strong wind events (e.g. dust storms). The deposition and agglomeration of sand material can yield e.g. to shadowing of the solar input or to scratching of the structure surfaces materials. In this paper, the dust transport and the deposition are studied on two different solar energy systems, namely a Solar Updraft Power Plant (SUPP) and a Parabolic Trough Power Plant (PTPP). In case of the SUPP grains move over the collector surface and agglomerate at low‐wind areas around and particularly behind the tower. Additionally construction parts of the glass panels may keep particles on the collector although a present sufficient threshold velocity is available. Because of the height of the collector rather fine sand/dust particles can be expected on the collector than larger sand grains. In contrast to this the troughs of the PTPP are closer to the soil bottom, so that they can collect large grains on its surfaces too. A physical wind tunnel study in combination with a numerical CFD-analysis for a single parabolic trough indicates for the deposition zones a high dependency on the orientation angle of the troughs. Both approaches are limited in terms of problem simplification and model characteristics, but give some reasonable and almost feasible results. Improvement of the models is still an ongoing work