Case study - Solar thermal In Louisiana


Courtesy of ElectraTherm

Solar Thermal/ORC Application in the USA
Site Location: Crowley, LA, United States
Thermal Power Available: Up to 650 kWt
Green Machine Gross Power Output Avg: 15-50 kWe
Hot Water Input Range: 65-120°C
Water Cooling Tower: Up to 600 kWt

ElectraTherm partnered with its gulf coast distributor, Gulf Coast Green Energy, to commission a Green Machine for a project sponsored by the University of Louisiana and Cleco Power LLC (Cleco). The power plant is located at the Cleco Alternative Energy Center on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Energy Research Complex, near Lafayette. The site utilizes thermal energy collected from two parabolic Solar Collector Assemblies (SCAs) to heat water from 65-120°C degrees, which is fed directly into the Green Machine.

ElectraTherm’s Green Machine generates power at the Cleco Alternative Energy Center by utilizing the hot water provided by the solar panels as fuel. Water heated in the solar array is pumped to the Green Machine to heat a working fluid that, under pressure, rotates ElectraTherm’s twin screw expander to generate electricity. The working fluid is then condensed by a water cooling tower to begin the process again in a closed loop cycle. The Green Machine generates 15-50kWe depending on local weather conditions and availability of the sun.  

“Our experience with the Green Machine has been successful, generating power output from the solar collectors on site over a wide range of operating conditions,” said Jonathan Raush, Senior Research Scientist for the project at University of Louisiana. “We look forward to learning more about Organic Rankine Cycle technology in tandem with solar thermal energy through our ongoing work with ElectraTherm’s Green Machine.”

The project was funded by a grant from Louisiana Department of Natural Resources’ Empower Louisiana Renewable Energy Grant Program in order to study and develop alternative energy technologies using renewable energy sources. Cleco provides support for ongoing operation of the facility, and UL Lafayette operates the solar thermal field, including running the Green Machine.

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