A holistic thermoeconomic assessment of small-scale, distributed solar organic Rankine cycle (ΟRC) systems: Comprehensive comparison of configurations, component and working fluid selection

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Title: A holistic thermoeconomic assessment of small-scale, distributed solar organic Rankine cycle (ΟRC) systems: Comprehensive comparison of configurations, component and working fluid selection
Authors: Wang, Y
Song, J
Chatzopoulou, MA
Sunny, N
Simpson, MC
Wang, J
Markides, CN
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: In this paper, results from comprehensive thermoeconomic assessments of small-scale solar organic Rankine cycle (ORC) systems are presented based on weather data in London, UK, which is taken as representative of a temperate climate with modest temperature changes, mild winters and moderate summers. The assessments consider a range of: (i) solar collector types (flat-plate, evacuated-tube, and evacuated flat-plate collectors); (ii) power cycle configurations (basic/recuperative, partial/full evaporating, and subcritical/transcritical cycles); (iii) expander types (scroll, screw, and piston) and designs; and (iv) a set of suitable working fluids. All possible solar-ORC system designs are optimised by considering simultaneously key parameters in the solar field and in the power cycle in order to obtain the highest electricity generation, from which the best-performing systems are identified. Selected designs are then subjected to detailed, annual simulations considering the systems’ operation, explicitly considering off-design performance under actual varying weather conditions. The results indicate that, among all investigated designs, solar-ORC systems based on the subcritical recuperative ORC (SRORC), evacuated flat-plate collectors (EFPCs), a piston expander, and isobutane as the working fluid outperforms all the other system designs on thermodynamic performance, whilst having the highest annual electricity generation of 1,100 kW·h/year (73 kW·h/year/m2) and an overall thermal efficiency of 5.5%. This system also leads to the best economic performance with a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of ~1 $/kW·h. Apart from the specific weather data used for these detailed system simulations, this study also proceeds to consider a wider range of climates associated with other global regions by varying the solar resource available to the system. Interestingly, it is found that the optimal solar-ORC system design remains unchanged for different conditions, however, the LCOE can drop below 0.35 $/kW·h and payback times can be shorter than 16 years in high solar-resource regions, even in the absence of incentives that would otherwise lead to even better economic performance. This work complements previous efforts in the literature by considering the full design and operational features of solar-ORC systems, thereby providing valuable guidance for selecting appropriate cycle configurations, components, working fluids and other characteristics and, for the first time, presents a comprehensive comparison of such systems in small-scale applications.
Issue Date: 15-Nov-2021
Date of Acceptance: 5-Aug-2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.enconman.2021.114618
ISSN: 0196-8904
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Start Page: 1
End Page: 19
Journal / Book Title: Energy Conversion and Management
Volume: 248
Copyright Statement: © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This manuscript is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Sponsor/Funder: Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC)
Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC)
British Council (UK)
Funder's Grant Number: EP/P004709/1
Keywords: Energy
0906 Electrical and Electronic Engineering
0913 Mechanical Engineering
Publication Status: Published
Embargo Date: 2022-10-25
Article Number: 114618
Online Publication Date: 2021-10-26
Appears in Collections:Centre for Environmental Policy
Chemical Engineering
Faculty of Natural Sciences

This item is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons