Progress in track-mounted heliostat

Christian Davila-Peralta*, Matt Rademacher, Nick Emerson, Gilberto Chavez-Lopez, Pablo Sosa, Rafael Cabanillas, Rodolfo Peon-Anaya, Noe Flores-Montijo, Nick Didato, Roger Angel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A novel concept is presented for a track-mounted heliostat for central receiver plants, intended to be manufacturable at low cost and to reach an installed cost of ~ $60 /m2 when implemented in high volume. Cost reduction is achieved by using steel in the structurally most efficient form of spaceframe structures. These spread the load broadly, halving the quantity of steel per square meter of reflecting area compared to a conventional post /fishbone heliostat design . The structure is turned in azimuth on wheels on a large diameter ground track, eliminating the need for an expensive, heavy slewing bearing. A preliminary finite-element design of a 22 m2 heliostat with spaceframe azimuth and elevation structures has a total steel mass of mass of 15 kg/m2 supporting 10 kg/m2 of glass reflectors and survives 145 km/h wind. Here we report of field tests of engineering performance of a first prototype of the lower, azimuth spaceframe mounted on a 7 m diameter concrete track. The moving structure with wheels and drive weighs 11 kg/m2 and has a measured lowest resonant frequency of 7.5 Hz, when loaded with a simulated elevation structure. The prototype incorporates inclinometers which measure alignment of the azimuth and elevation axes to better than 0.2 mrad. Absolute azimuth rotation angle measured via an incremental encoder on the drive motor encoder and metal reference bars in the concrete track was found to be accurate to 0.35 mrad. Combining the tip/tilt, azimuth rotation and servo errors in quadrature gives a total of 0.49 mrad in tracker orientation, providing encouragement that our full heliostat system target of 1 mrad RMS pointing accuracy (double the orientation accuracy) should be achievable.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSOLARPACES 2019
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Conference on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems
EditorsChristoph Richter
PublisherAmerican Institute of Physics Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9780735440371
StatePublished - 11 Dec 2020
Event2019 International Conference on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems, SolarPACES 2019 - Daegu, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 1 Oct 20194 Oct 2019

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616


Conference2019 International Conference on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems, SolarPACES 2019
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Institute of Physics Inc.. All rights reserved.


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