Atmospheric extinction in solar tower plants: Absorption and broadband correction for MOR measurements

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Losses of reflected Direct Normal Irradiance due to atmospheric extinction in concentrating solar tower plants can vary significantly with site and time. The losses of the direct normal irradiance between the heliostat field and receiver in a solar tower plant are mainly caused by atmospheric scattering and absorption by aerosol and water vapor concentration in the atmospheric boundary layer. Due to a high aerosol particle number, radiation losses can be significantly larger in desert environments compared to the standard atmospheric conditions which are usually considered in raytracing or plant optimization tools. Information about on-site atmospheric extinction is only rarely available. To measure these radiation losses, two different commercially available instruments were tested and more than 19 months of measurements were collected at the Plataforma Solar de Almería and compared. Both instruments are primarily used to determine the meteorological optical range (MOR). The Vaisala FS11 scatterometer is based on a monochromatic near-infrared light source emission and measures the strength of scattering processes in a small air volume mainly caused by aerosol particles. The Optec LPV4 long-path visibility transmissometer determines the monochromatic attenuation between a light-emitting diode (LED) light source at 532 nm and a receiver and therefore also accounts for absorption processes. As the broadband solar attenuation is of interest for solar resource assessment for Concentrating Solar Power (CSP), a correction procedure for these two instruments is developed and tested. This procedure includes a spectral correction of both instruments from monochromatic to broadband attenuation. That means the attenuation is corrected for the actual, time-dependent by the collector reflected solar spectrum. Further, an absorption correction for the Vaisala FS11 scatterometer is implemented. To optimize the Absorption and Broadband Correction (ABC) procedure, additional measurement input of a nearby sun photometer is used to enhance on-site atmospheric assumptions for description of the atmosphere in the algorithm. Comparing both uncorrected and spectral- and absorption-corrected extinction data from one year measurements at the Plataforma Solar de Almería, the mean difference between the scatterometer and the transmissometer is reduced from 4.4 to 0.6%. Applying the ABC procedure without the usage of additional input data from a sun photometer still reduces the difference between both sensors to about 0.8%. Applying an expert guess assuming a standard aerosol profile for continental regions instead of additional sun photometer input results in a mean difference of 0.81%. Therefore, applying this new correction method, both instruments can now be utilized to determine the solar broadband extinction in tower plants sufficiently accurate.




Hanrieder, N., Wilbert, S., Pitz-Paal, R., Emde, C., Gasteiger, J., Mayer, B., & Polo, J. (2015). Atmospheric extinction in solar tower plants: Absorption and broadband correction for MOR measurements. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 8(8), 3467–3480.

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