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Solar Energy 74 (2003) 417–427

The effective size of the solar cone for solar concentrating systems
D. Buie*, C.J. Dey, S. Bosi
Solar Energy Group, School of Physics A28, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia Received 15 December 2002; received in revised form 10 April 2003; accepted 21 April 2003

Abstract In this paper we define a virtual solar cone, whose principle axis is aligned with the solar vector, having a radial angular displacement containing a pre-defined proportion of the terrestrial solar radiation. By simulating various sunshape profiles, the angular extent of the energy distribution is established to give the effective size of the solar cone for a range of atmospheric conditions. Then, by simulating the reflection of these solar distributions off a set of non-ideal mirrored surfaces, accounting for non-specular reflection and mirror shape errors, the combined effect of sunshape and mirror properties on the solar image is obtained. Clear trends are presented that show the dependence of the effective size of the solar image on the accuracy of a mirrored surface for different sunshapes. We then identify the effective size of the solar image at the absorber plane that must be accommodated in the design and optimisation of solar concentrating systems.  2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: Insolation; Concentrating systems; Sunshape

1. Introduction The broadening of the solar image when sunlight travels from the near vacuum of space to the Earth’s surface is due to interactions of the sunlight with atmospheric particulates. Where the radius of the particles is large in comparison to the wavelength of the sunlight, small angle forward scattering occurs, forming the solar aureole (Mie, 1908). The amount of energy in this circumsolar region is important for two reasons (Noring et al., 1991; Buie et al., 2003). Firstly, the radial solar energy profile (sunshape) plays a non-negligible role in determining the overall flux distribution at the focal region of imaging concentrators. Secondly, depending on the acceptance angle of a solar concentrating system, overestimation of the power output may occur if all the power is assumed to fall within the extent of the solar disc only. This paper is concerned with the second of these issues: examining the amount of energy that is available in a given radial displacement about the solar vector, that has been
*Corresponding author. Tel.: 161-2-9351-5979; fax: 161-29451-7725. E-mail address: buie@physics.usyd.edu.au (D. Buie).

reflected off a mirrored surface in a generic solar concentrating system. To estimate this, an accurate model of the radial energy distribution of the sun must be established. Originally, work conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories (LBL) (Grether et al., 1975; Noring et al., 1991) in the late 1970s and early 1980s measured the degree to which sunshapes varied from location to location. Eleven sites were chosen across the United States exhibiting different atmospheric characteristics such as altitude, proximity to sources of large particulates, and humidity. Grether, Evans, Hunt and Wahlig collated over 200 000 individual solar profiles into what was called the reduced database (RDB). Between them, they published over 15 articles relating to their methodology of collecting and the spectral nature and distribution of circumsolar radiation (a full reference list of their contribution is provided by Noring et al., 1991). This work was an important step toward the creation of a terrestrial sunshape model. Work carried out by Rabl and Bendt (1982) in defining a sunshape using the RDB was followed by Schubnell et al. (1991), Schubnell (1992a,b), Steinfeld and Schubnell (1993), Neumann and Schubnell (1992), Neumann and Groer (1996), Neumann et al. (1998) and Neumann and

0038-092X / 03 / $ – see front matter  2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016 / S0038-092X(03)00156-7

for brevity we will refer to Fi as the incident radiation. In summary. (2003) showed that terrestrial sunshapes show little variation from location to location when they are described in terms of their circumsolar ratio (CSR). Johnston (1995) showed that these two sources of errors. the angular extent of the circumsolar region (uD ) is set to be 43. Fi (1) If u is the radial displacement about the solar vector.58. / Solar Energy 74 (2003) 417–427 Nomenclature x Fcs Fi u ud uD uL f k g L P s Circumsolar ratio Energy contained within the circumsolar region of the terrestrial solar beam Total terrestrial solar beam Angular displacement from the solar vector Radial displacement of the solar disk Radial displacement of the circumsolar region Radial displacement defining the size of the solar cone Radial solar energy profile (sunshape) per steradian Sunshape variable Sunshape variable Percentage of the terrestrial solar beam Probability distribution of the combined surface error Standard deviation of the probability distribution Witzke (1999).6 milliradians (mrad). Buie et al. (2000) at the Observatorio Nacional in Brazil. could be combined for a mirrored surface. The effective size of the solar image at the absorber plane that must be accommodated in the design and optimisation of solar concentrating systems is then discussed. they do not broaden the solar image and therefore are excluded from these calculations. All of these authors made contributions to the description of the radial energy distribution of the sun and the effect this distribution has on the ultimate flux distribution in the focal region of concentrating systems. This paper defines a solar cone whose principle axis is aligned with the solar vector and that has a radial angular displacement containing a pre-defined proportion of the terrestrial solar radiation. The sunshape Buie et al. 2. and surface normal deviations from mirror shape errors. describing an empirical sunshape model that illustrates little variation over a range of geographic locations and presenting an algorithm that can be used to recreate sunshapes for simulating solar concentrators. Concentrating systems have the added complexity of reflecting sunlight off at least one mirrored surface. combined with their statistical weights. Neumann et al. (2002) described six sunshape profiles that are indicative of a typical range of atmospheric conditions. The broadened distribution. work described in the literature to date involves simulation of the radial energy distribution of the sun for clear skies showing good agreement with a vast amount of observed data. (2003) extended the analysis of the LBL sunshape data. divided by the incident radiant flux from the direct beam and circumsolar regions combined Fi . The incident radiation and the radiation contained in the circumsolar . Since we are considering concentrating collectors only and therefore exclude insolation falling outside the circumsolar region. Buie et al. Clear trends are presented that show the dependence of the effective size of the solar image on the accuracy of a mirrored surface for different sunshapes.418 D. both surface normal deviation and dispersion. and the broadening of the solar image could be simulated by considering a probability distribution of errors. The effective size of the solar cone is then described for a range of solar conditions.2668) as calculated by Puliaev et al. The inner limit of the circumsolar region is the edge of the solar disc ud and has a generally accepted value of 4. Fcs x 5] . the typical reflected solar distribution off that surface is predictable. complementary to an active cavity radiometer having an acceptance half angle of 2. represent a numerical database for calculating the influence of variable conditions of the sunlight scattering on solar concentrating systems. The CSR ( x ) is defined as the radiant solar flux contained within the circumsolar region of the sky Fcs . The reflection causes a broadening of the solar beam. Therefore. or solar image caused by the reflection of the solar cone off a mirrored plane are calculated. Although tracking errors are equally important for estimating the size of the flux distribution in the imaging plane of a solar concentrator.65 mrad (0. These profiles. The broadening is due to both the dispersion effects of nonspecular surfaces. if sufficient statistical information is gathered characterising mirror surfaces.

The sunshape described by Buie et al. (4) and observed data collated by Neumann et al. Using Eqs. Using Eq.65 mradj.D. Ef(u.52x )x 20.3 . Eq. Ef(u.5% had a CSR less than 0.cs 5 2p E f(u ) sin u du .05 and 89. 71.x)u du L( x ) 5 ]]]] .5x )x 20. (2002). uD 0 uL (7) k 5 0. the proportion L of the incident radiation bounded by a specific radial displacement uL about the central solar vector can be estimated from.5% of the sunshapes had a CSR less than 0. (2002) sunshape profiles. 1. (4) is a good representation of independently observed data. a complete statistical breakdown is presented in their work. Typical CSR values vary from zero to 0. g 5 2. then the angular distribution of the incident radiation is well defined. Comparison between Eq.ud ¯ 2p E f(u )u du . Of the solar profiles collected by Neumann et al.1 . . (2002) from three sites across Europe. cos(0. 5 and that uses only one parameter. the CSR. but have been recorded close to unity (Noring et al.3. 0.01 Fig. Buie et al. (7) the effective size of the solar cone was estimated for solar radiation with CSRs ranging from 0. (2002). based on the LBL reduced database and Neumann et al.9 ln(13.2 ln(0.15. uD (2) 0. 5% and 6% can be seen in Fig. 1.326u ) ]]] for hu [ Ru0 # u # 4. Clearly. If the sunshape is known accurately. 4.. / Solar Energy 74 (2003) 417–427 419 region can be well-approximated by considering the integral of the sunshape f (u ) according to.65 mradj. The comparison between this data and sunshapes created using Eq. 63 normalised sunshapes with a CSR of or about 5% were correlated by Neumann et al. Using a charged coupled device camera. f (u ) 5 cos(0. 1991). (2003). (1–6). (4) where k and g are given by.308u ) k g e u for hu [ Ruu .43 2 0. (4) with CSRs of 4%.ud uD (3) for small u.x)u du 0 (5) (6) represents a sunshape model that is independent of location for any given CSR. Fi.

where s is the standard deviation of the combined surface slope and dispersion error. (8) was conducted (Rabl. du s 2 (8) 2.3 has 70% of its energy contained within the solar disc. (3)–(6) and the probability distribution from Eq. 202–205). encompassing 100% of the incident radiation. to 0. 80%. causing the expected specular reflection to form a dispersive cloud. dP u 2 2 ] 5 ] e 2u / 2 s . the reflection of an image off a surface causes a distortion in that image. real surfaces interact with the reflected radiation. the reflected image would be identical to the original.420 D. whereas poorer quality solar reflectors could have a standard deviation as high as 8 mrad. 2). 3). measured in milliradians (Johnston. Firstly.6 mrad.65 mrad. the variations in the surface normals from the ideal mirror shape are an additional influence on the reflected image. Buie et al. 2. To investigate the reflection of the solar image off a non-ideal mirrored surface. The value of the angular displacement for all of the simulations should be 4. 90%. the accepted limit of the solar disc. / Solar Energy 74 (2003) 417–427 Fig. Johnston (1995) showed that by considering as a systemic mass both the slope error (defined as the angular deviation of the actual surface normal vectors from their ideal directions. as defined here.8 (Fig.2 and 64% for the remainder of the sunshapes. 95% and 98%. The convolution in principal involves redistributing the vectors representing the solar image according to a normalised two-dimensional representation of a radial Gaussian distribution. a high quality optical mirror has a probability distribution with a standard deviation of about 0. the convolution of the solar image created from Eqs. For each of the CSR sunshapes created using Eq.1. Reflection of a mirrored surface If the terrestrial solar image is reflected off a perfect (planar) surface. and u is the radial displacement of a reflected beam from the specular direction. In real systems though. that is to say. the combined error could be treated by the probability distribution (P). Two principle effects cause this distortion in solar concentrators. Initially a solar image consisting of one hundred thousand appropriately weighted vectors . By definition. This implies that the error associated with the prediction of the size of the solar disc is 61% for sunshapes with a CSR of less than 0. pp. 85%. a solar profile with a CSR of 0. As an example of different surfaces. 1985. Secondly. 1998)) and surface dispersion effects. Obviously the upper asymptotic limit to the effective size of the solar cone is 43. A real surface can then be characterised by the standard deviation of the probability distribution. The six curves represent various percentages of the incident radiation of 70%.2 mrad. mirror shapes are not perfect. (4) the effective edge of the solar disc was determined (Fig. The effective size of a solar cone containing various percentages of the incident radiation.

/ Solar Energy 74 (2003) 417–427 421 Fig.65 mrad. (4) at predicting the edge of the solar disc for a range of atmospheric conditions. Fig. The angular displacement of the solar disc should be 4. .D. 3.5 mrad. Demonstration of the accuracy of Eq. Buie et al. 4. The effective size of the solar cone after reflection off a surface with a standard deviation of surface errors of 3.

. 6. 5. Buie et al. Fig. The angular displacement of the reflected solar cone for different mirror errors for a CSR of 0.1. Curves are shown for the collection limits of different percentages of the incident radiation.422 D.05. / Solar Energy 74 (2003) 417–427 Fig. The angular displacement of the reflected solar cone for different mirror errors for a CSR of 0. Curves are shown for the collection limits of different percentages of the incident radiation.

7. Curves are shown for the collection limits of different percentages of the incident radiation. 8. Fig. The angular displacement of the reflected solar cone for different mirror errors for a CSR of 0. . The angular displacement of the reflected solar cone for different mirror errors for a CSR of 0. Buie et al. / Solar Energy 74 (2003) 417–427 423 Fig.3.D. Curves are shown for the collection limits of different percentages of the incident radiation.2.

The angular displacement of the reflected solar cone as a function of the circumsolar ratio for different mirror tolerances for an incident radiation collection efficiency of 90%. / Solar Energy 74 (2003) 417–427 Fig.424 D. 10. 9. The angular displacement of the reflected solar cone as a function of the circumsolar ratio for different mirror tolerances for an incident radiation collection efficiency of 80%. Buie et al. Fig. .

the error distribution would be asymmetric (or elliptical). The angular displacement of the reflected solar cone as a function of the circumsolar ratio for different mirror tolerances for an incident radiation collection efficiency of 95%. being the majority of reflections. A normalised two dimensional representation of a radial Gaussian distribution was also created.05 to 0. a range of incident radiation proportions (L) was chosen so as to get a clear indication of the optical performance of concentrating systems. the effective size of the solar cone was compared primarily to the optical quality of mirrors for particular solar conditions (Figs. extending to an angular displacement of three standard deviations from each solar vector. This is qualitatively different to the upper asymptotic limit in the effective size of the solar cone that exists in reflecting the solar image off an ideal surface. for a generic solar concentrating system. except that the original solar image was reflected off a surface with a standard deviation of 3. simulating a real surface with a standard slope error of s. 2 and 4. as the standard deviation of errors increases. / Solar Energy 74 (2003) 417–427 425 Fig. 3. the effective size off the solar cone increases substantially. 5–8 illustrate the dependence of the effective size of the reflected solar cone on the quality of the reflecting surface. The results of the simulations have been presented in two ways: firstly. Therefore this method is only an approximation of a real system. The weight of each of the solar vectors was then redistributed according to the normalised Gaussian about the position of each vector. Of the four solar conditions ranging from a CSR of 0. 5–8) and secondly. 11. 9–11). the size of the solar image was primarily compared to various solar conditions where the concentrator has certain predefined parameters (Figs. Discussion Figs. The energy distribution of various solar images was calculated including the effective size of the solar cone. Also as the incident beam becomes broader (defined by a larger CSR). For non-normal reflection. Buie et al. the effective size of the reflected solar cone increases with the degradation of the optical quality of the mirrored surface (defined by the standard deviation of the combined surface errors). It must be pointed out that the convolution of a radial error distribution and a solar image is only truly representative of a reflected beam at normal incidence.3. As in Figs. Fig. 4 illustrates a typical result similar to Fig. particularly for small surface errors. extending over the angular radius of the circumsolar region was created. As . An approximately linear relationship exists between the angular size of the reflected solar cone and the standard deviation of errors.5 mrad.D. after the reflection off assumed planar mirrors of differing optical qualities. 2.

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