Successful test at full power

On Saturday it was sunny, and some of the solar team were here at work running more tests with Solar Field 2. They shone about 600 kW of thermal energy into the receiver, which is approaching the maximum power this receiver is designed to handle. The system was run just long enough for everyone to confirm that everything’s functioning well. More tests will be carried out tomorrow and Wednesday, weather permitting.

The image above is from the software we use to operate Solar Field 2. It shows a scenario like the tests done on Saturday, where about half of the mirrors are shining light into the receiver aperture. I’ve added an annotation showing where you can see their reflected yellow rays focusing to a point.

The other half of the mirrors—the ones that aren’t in use—are in their ‘standby’ positions. Another annotation shows how they’re pointing to different spots on a semicircle of sky around the receiver. These are specially selected safe positions that mean the mirrors are close to the target in case they’re needed quickly, but don’t pose a hazard to anything in the meantime.

Jin-Soo Kim, the CSIRO research scientist who is heading up the receiver development programme, took this photo from the base of the tower while all the heliostats were in their standby positions on Saturday. At the focal distance of the mirrors, where the light is most intense, you can see it reflecting off the vapour and dust in the sky.

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