New Methods and Results for the Optimisation of Solar Power Tower Plants

By Thomas Ashley

The aims for this STSM were to further develop the working relationship between my research institute and our project partners TSK Flagsol and the University of Aachen, as well as to present results and develop new ideas for the future.


A Solar Power Tower (SPT) plant uses a field of mirrors to focus the sun’s energy onto a central receiver, mounted atop a tower, where the concentrated solar energy is then used to drive a turbine and produce electricity. The team at IMUS have published numerous papers on the optimisation of SPT plants, and continues to research in this area and foster relationships with industry.

From my recent STSM to Germany, I was able to work with our academic and industrial partners to develop two new lines of research in SPT plant optimisation. Specifically, we are now considering the optimisation of the transfer of thermal energy through SPT plant subsystems, as well as the optimal plant configuration when considering the cleaning requirements of the mirrors.

From these initial ideas we will work towards innovative solutions that will be published in journals and further assist in the development and implementation of green energy technology.

The outcomes from this visit were the development of two new research lines, which bridge the gap between academia and industry, where the end result will be engineering advancement and publication of research papers.

Thomas Ashley is a PhD student in Mathematics at the University of Seville, Spain, researching into the optimisation of the renewable energy technology Solar Tower Power Plants. Thomas has an MSc in Advanced Mathematics from the University of Exeter, UK. He has previously worked for six years applying mathematics within the Defense engineering industry.