Automatic alignment of heliostats
Global projections of the effects of climate change are dire and are, consequently, driving strong growth in alternative energy generation technologies.
Our project aims to improve the efficiency of concentrated solar power plants. These power plants use thousands of parabolic mirrors (heliostats) to concentrate sunlight to produce heat and electricity. Each heliostat must be accurately aligned to focus on the central tower which can be up to a kilometre away. Current methods for alignment are primitive and typically involve shutting the plant down. Our project investigates a new method to calculate alignment deviations independently of any structural and mechanical design. We do this by detecting small vibrations in heliostat reflections with computer vision and signal processing techniques to drive hardware that is cheap and easy to attach to existing power plants. Using this method, maintenance/alignment of individual heliostats can now occur without shutting down the entire plant.
Future energy and resources