Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has launched the verification testing to gauge the performance of a solar thermal power system at its newly completed facility at Yokohama Works.

The testing of the sunlight and thermal energy collecting performance will be carried out through March 2017 under contract from the Japan’s Ministry of the Environment.

The verification project involves testing of efficiency improvement enabled by higher-temperature steam than that produced by earlier systems, and optimal control of the high-temperature thermal energy storage system.

The testing is being carried out by MHPS is on a concentrating solar power (CSP) system, where a sunlight concentrator is used to collect solar thermal energy.

The CSP system provides more advantages compared to conventional photovoltaic power generation.

The sunlight and thermal energy collection method included in MHPS's CSP system is a proprietary hybrid system combining a low-temperature Fresnel evaporator and a tower-type superheater which collects sunlight by heliostats.

The hybrid system has the ability to produce higher-temperature steam at lower cost compared to previous versions of CSP systems.

The new configuration allows to the Fresnel evaporator to collect approximately 70% of all concentrated sunlight, while the remaining is collected by the superheater.

The newly completed testing facility is spread across an area of approximately 10,000m2. The facility has the evaporator, the superheater, and 150 heliostats that track the sun's movements and use mirrors to reflect the sunlight to the focus point on the superheater.

To examine the viability of nighttime power generation, testing of the high-temperature thermal energy storage system will get underway in October at the facility.