EERE's New Projects

Heliostat System with Wireless Closed-Loop Control

Program Area 
Photovoltaic

Awardee Details

Awardee 
Thermata
State 
California

Funding

DOE Amount 
$1,000,000

Thermata is demonstrating a collector system with enhanced optical tracking capability. The unit includes a control system that provides real-time information to adjust the location of the reflected sunlight. It demonstrates a prototype heliostat system that meets the cost, performance, and reliability objectives of the SunShot Initiative.

The research team is working to demonstrate that a heliostat system using Thermata's innovative closed-loop optical tracking technology can satisfy key technical requirements, including total optical error and wind-load requirements.

Thermata's transformative concept is an innovation in closed-loop tracking. A camera system mounted on the central-receiver tower optically senses the focus of each individual heliostat and uses end-to-end closed-loop control to accurately place the sun on any receiver target. These breakthroughs also result in reduced mechanical tolerance requirements, lower wind forces on mechanical parts, and significant reductions in both installation and operations costs. In addition, Thermata's heliostat is controlled through a wireless mesh network, is self-powered by photovoltaics, and is factory prewired, which eliminates field wiring, trenching, and related costs.

     

    Objectives 
    • Demonstrate the effectiveness of a camera-based tracking system
    • Validate the cost of Thermata heliostats going to $75/square meter when installed in high volumes
    • Characterize the optical performance of the heliostat system