Michael Hogan, Power Programme Director for the European Climate Foundation, has written an indepth article for the Climate Progress weblog. His guest post details various approaches to low-water-use and high-efficiency when implementing utility-scale, solar thermal systems for electric power generation. As After Gutenberg readers might know already, the largest solar installation in the world is a solar thermal electric power plant in the Nevada desert.
As a senior executive of InterGen, Michael Hogan oversaw deployment in the late 1990s of an indirect dry cooling system. The particular Heller system was part of a 2,400 MW gas-fired combined cycle plant in Adapazari, Turkey and still is the world’s largest installation of an indirect dry cooling system. “[It] continues to work extremely well,” says Hogan.
Water usage is a critical factor since since large-scale solar thermoelectric plants generally will be located in desert regions, e.g., Australia and MENA (Middle East – North Africa), in addition to the Southwestern U.S.. “Indirect dry cooling (also known as “Heller” systems) will be a crucial enabling technology” in Hogan’s opinion because they “can reduce water consumption… by 97% with minimal performance impact.” Solar thermal developers have long experience in certain regions with Heller systems, reports Hogan, “due to their higher efficiency, smaller footprints, quieter operation, lower maintenance, higher availability, and more flexible site layout.”
Hogan also opines that the feature, which most worked against Heller systems in US fossil plant applications, i.e., the visual impact of the tall cooling towers, “should be far less of an issue in remote desert sites, especially with solar power tower complexes where the central towers will likely be of similar height.”