Google's RE<C renewable energy research project recently open sourced a new tool and a significant amount of data to support future CSP (concentrating solar power) heliostat development, announced Ross Koningstein, Engineer, Google RE<C team in a January 30 blog post.
"Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal (RE<C) initiative was launched in 2007 through Google.org as an effort to drive down the cost of renewable energy. We've retired this initiative and continue to support renewable energy in a variety of other ways," Google stated.
HOpS Open Source Site, is an open source software tool for accurately and efficiently performing optical simulations of fields of heliostats, the actuated mirror assemblies that direct sunlight onto a target in CSP applications.
Koningstein said "Google used this tool to help evaluate heliostat field layouts and calculate heat input into a CSP receiver for power production."
"HOpS (heliostat optical simulation) works by passing "packets" of light between optical elements (the sun, heliostats, and elements of the target surface), tracking shadowing and blocking masks along the way."
Adding he said, "for our analysis goals, this approach gave our researchers more flexibility and accuracy than analytic tools (such as DELSOL or HFLCAL), and it was easier to set up for thousands of runs than using ray tracers. Output from the simulation includes heliostat efficiency, target irradiance, and more, while an included shell script facilitates plotting heat maps of the output data using gnuplot."
REC-CSP Open Source Site open source project contains data sets and software useful for designing cheaper heliostats.