Thermal storage in a MW scale. Molten salt solar thermal pilot facility: Plant description and commissioning experiences
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In 2008, following its R&D strategy roadmap for Concentrated Solar Power, Abengoa designed, built and tested a unique Molten Salts pilot plant at the representative scale of 8 MWhth, coupled with a trough oil loop. The objectives of this project were based on evaluating the technology at a scale at which the results are sufficiently representative of the real circumstances facing a commercial plant that utilizes this storage technology. To this end, the MS-TES plant was brought into operation on January 19th, 2009, been the first demo plant of indirect double tank storage in operation in the world. Key points such a material corrosion, analysis of possible leakage points, calculation of performance or true efficiency of the storage (including a thorough assessment of thermal losses) and analysis of plant operation are the lines that have been analysed at this plant. Operational aspects such as the mechanical assembling, the pre-heating, the filling up and plant performance were deeply addressed. Key components as the storage tanks, the heat exchanger, the molten salts pumps, the heat-tracing systems or valves and instrumentation were tested. In this first paper, the description and commissioning of the plant is presented together a set of lessons learnt to be applied at the commercial plant scale.