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Alcoa, under the CSP R&D FOA, is seeking to demonstrate that significant life cycle cost savings and subsequent LCOE reductions are achievable through the design optimization of aluminum-intensive collectors.
Alcoa is developing an aluminum-intensive collector, including the supporting structure and reflector, which will provide at least a 20% reduction in total LCOE compared to current baseline collectors. The monocoque "wing-box" design has an internal aluminum structure and a solid, sturdy geometry. The collector is manufactured as two modules that are built in-factory and shipped to the installation site. Assembly and installation of the collector consists only of connecting the two halves, and there is virtually no optical alignment necessary. This design also utilizes a reflective polymeric film as opposed to a glass mirror.
The Alcoa trough shows considerable cost improvements on a baseline system while maintaining approximately the same performance. Alcoa anticipates that its approach to developing both the reflector and the supporting structure design will result in a 25%–50% cost savings for the solar field, which includes the collector assembly but excludes the concentrating solar power (CSP) power plant. The capabilities for mass assembly and production of aluminum-intensive collector components exist in the United States; therefore, an additional benefit of an aluminum-intensive collector is its strong potential to substantially and positively impact the U.S. manufacturing base.
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