Sunrise CSP's core technology is the Big Dish, a low-cost, high-performance solar energy concentrator.
The Big Dish is a large paraboloidal dish solar concentrator, with ~500m2 reflective surface area, that delivers highly concentrated solar energy, >2000 suns, to a receiver. The technical performance, manufacturing, operation and maintenance advantages of the dish ensure its superior commercial performance in today's and future CSP markets. The photos below show the Big Dish Gen-II pilot built at the Australian National University (ANU) in 2009.
The Big Dish was researched and developed over more than 40 years, commencing at the ANU in the 1970s. The commercially deployable Gen-II design was developed by Wizard Power since 2005 with the assistance of the ANU. The Gen-II Big Dish delivers superior solar-steam and solar-to-electric conversion efficiency due to its:
The technical efficiency advantages of Big Dish plants are illustrated in the graph below which shows the typical solar to electricity conversion efficiencies of each CSP technology type, as published by the International Energy Agency, compared to Big Dish modelling estimates and ANU pilot plant testing. Increases of Big Dish efficiencies above 26% can be achieved using alternative receiver types such as super-critical steam power generation, Brayton cycle turbines with combined cycle configurations or direct molten salt receiver / piping systems.
In addition to its technical efficiency advantages the Big Dish delivers a low cost per unit of energy delivered (LCOE) by using:
Sunrise CSP holds patents or patent applications in target markets for the Big Dish structure.
Typical Big Dish Power Plant Configuration
A typical super-heated Direct Steam Generation (DSG) Big Dish power plant consists of a large field of dishes connected to a central power block via an insulated piping network. Each dish tracks the sun and concentrates its energy to create super-heated steam at temperatures between 540oC to over 600oC and pressure of 150 bar to over 200 bar, depending on factors such as turbine selection. The operating temperature and pressure of the plant is the same as those found in a modern gas-fired or coal-fired boiler based power plant. To achieve power dispatchability, the power plant can be integrated with Sunrise CSP's SUMO energy storage system, or hybridised with gas or another fuel, to ensure guaranteed power generation in accordance with a dispatch schedule or a Power Purchase Agreement. The graphic below illustrates a power plant configuration with air-cooled condensors.
Energy loss in transmission of feed water and superheated steam in the piping network is minor due to low cost insulation, making very large solar fields of thousands of dishes feasible, enabling single plants of tens of megawatts to gigawatt capacity.
Current and Future Market Position
Big Dish based systems are already competitive with other forms of CSP and are ready for commercial deployment. In addition, Sunrise CSP has a three-phase structured engineering plan to further reduce the LCOE of Big Dish plants to compete, without subsidy, with gas-fired generation by 2020 in markets paying world parity prices for gas.
The engineering plan will deliver a decrease of LCOE of over 50% for Big Dish plants within six years of funding availability. This cost reduction plan requires no breakthrough technologies and is based on clearly identified design improvements, with a focus on manufacturing efficiency, standardisation of components, lean material use, further FiF automation, plant scale-up and high volume material and component sourcing.
The graph below illustrates the cost reduction trajectory, by subsystem, for Big Dish based power plants over the three-phase program.