Cool Fluid Power

Solar Panel

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To convert the light energy of the sun to generate 64 megawatts of electrical energy requires 760 solar collector assemblies. Each solar collector assembly consists of 12 mirrored collector modules, mounted six on each side of the drive actuator. This line of 12 mirrored collector modules extends approximately 100 meters. A hydraulic drive actuator system rotates each solar collector assembly incrementally to track the sun. Therefore 760 hydraulic drives are used in this field. Each mirrored collector array consists of 20 mirrors approximately 1.5 meters square. Each mirrored array is made of a truss-like frame that rigidly supports the 20 mirrors arranged in a parabolic shape on the surface facing the sun. The mirrors are arranged four rows high by five rows long. The curved surface is approximately six meters high.

The hydraulic drive system provides the torque capability required for the higher wind loads and the larger panel sizes needed for the next generation of solar power plant technology. The hydraulic unit is integrated into a system with valving and controls that allows it to freeze (lock-out) under very high wind load conditions. Additionally, the hydraulic system has cross-over relief valves connecting the actuator cylinders which allows the unit to absorb high wind gusts without damage to the mechanical components. This high-wind hydraulic clutching action allows the solar panel to reestablish precision positioning with minimal loss of plant efficiency. This feature allows the plant to continue operation in more adverse weather conditions than was possible in the past.

The control system will continue to keep this solar array pointed at the theoretical sun position for the particular time of day in one tenth degree increments. Based on the speed of travel of the sun across the sky, this corresponds to the electronic control turning on the hydraulic pump/motor approximately once every 24 seconds throughout the day. At the end of the day, the controller commands the solar array to return to the morning start position and the cycle begins again.


Parker Hannifin Corporation