Sandia LabNews

Testing solar irradiance

helicopter flies over solar tower
helicopter flies overhead

Last year, Sandia’s National Solar Thermal Test Facility brought in a helicopter to collect data on the strength and direction of light reflected from the concentrating solar power field at the solar tower. Labs engineer Cliff Ho and Cianan Sims of Sims Industries have developed a new software, the Tower Illuminance Model, that simulates a field of heliostats and lets users interactively calculate irradiance, glare hazard and potential hazards to birds caused by concentrated sunlight.

Solar glare and avian hazards are an important concern for concentrating solar installations, and the new software validated in the solar tower tests lets users select a range of aiming strategies and field configurations and then navigate the simulated airspace above the heliostat field in real time to identify configurations that help mitigate the hazards.