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A more efficient use of renewable thermal energy

By Paul Grad |

A team of engineers from the Center for Energy Technology, University of Adelaide (South Australia; www.adelaide.edu.au), the University of Nantes (France) and Mie University (Japan), have proposed a more efficient way to generate power from low to medium temperature (90–260°C) solar and geothermal resources. In the new system, called Renewable Assisted Power Generation (RAPG), the renewable energy is used to heat the boiler feed water (BFW), so the efficiency is no longer limited by the renewable resource’s temperature, says team member Eric Hu. Instead, the efficiency is limited by the maximum temperature of the steam cycle. In contrast to other solar boosting or combined power systems, in RAPG renewable-energy-generated heat or steam does not enter the turbine directly. Instead, the energy is used in place of steam normally extracted from turbine stages for BFW preheating in regenerative Rankine cycles. The steam that would be otherwise extracted is therefore available to generate additional power in the turbine. For three typical temperatures of geo- and solar-thermal resources (90, 215 and 260°C), the team compared the performance for the cases in which the resources were used to generate power in a standalone…
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