Solar Power Plant

  Solar Power Plant  

Master's Course Architecture Project M2

In this project, a large-scale solar energy generation plant is to be designed. Large-scale plants can basically be created by stringing together basic modules. These plants are based on photovoltaic or solar thermal energy and are extremely simple in their operation. For really large plants, however, it is not economical to work with self-sufficient modules. Here it makes more sense to first concentrate the energy with the simplest possible means and then convert it centrally into electricity. There are two basic approaches for this, a solar updraft power plant or a solar concentrator. Both types of plants represent highly interesting construction tasks from the point of view of architects and engineers.

In a solar concentrator, an array of mirrors concentrates sunlight in a receiver, which is mounted on a tower. Extreme temperatures are generated, which are dissipated via an active medium and converted into electricity in a turbine. The main components of the system are the tower with receiver, the layout of the mirror array, the construction of the mirrors themselves and the power generation system. From a planning point of view, such a system can be significantly influenced by the design of the mirror array. The spectrum of possible approaches here ranges from complex tracking mirrors, which allow maximum energy yield at any time of day, to intelligent, highly optimized layouts consisting of relatively simple mirror surfaces.

In addition to photovoltaics and solar thermal energy, solar chimney power plants represent a third functional principle for generating energy from solar radiation. Here, air is heated under a transparent collector surface like in a greenhouse and flows upwards at high speed via a centrally located vertical chimney due to its lower density. The resulting draft is used to generate electricity via wind turbines. The efficiency of such a plant is low but increases with the size of the plant. For optimal economic operation, collector arrays with a diameter of up to 7 kilometers and chimneys up to 1,500 meters high are designed. Such a plant has not yet been implemented but would be the tallest and largest building in the world in terms of area.

Before the actual design phase begins, we will work out the basics for processing the design task and functional, technical and constructive aspects of the plant principles in the first semester. For construction tasks with these enormous dimensions it is always sensible to plan in a material-efficient and structurally optimized way. Core aspects are here:

  • structural design, i.e. the design with modules and systems
  • Lightweight construction and structural optimization
  • Form finding
  • Innovative concepts for plant optimization

The integration of technical, constructive and architectural aspects makes the design of such a facility a challenging task. The objective of the design task is to develop alternative approaches to the design and construction principles presented in the literature so far. In our opinion, the visionary aspect of the design task is obvious. Of course it is also about developing a positive, future-oriented utopia.

Language of instruction: German/English

Number of participants: 8 students

Location: Chair of Structural Engineering

dates: Tuesdays 15:00 - 18:00

Tutors: Thorsten Pofahl Dipl.-Ing., Andrija Pranjic M. Sc

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