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Report RSE 17001375

Medium temperature solar cooling plants: experimental investigation of a variableconfiguration plant and study of innovative solutions

The present document is related to research activities on variable configuration medium temperature solar cooling plants. Model part and experimental results are included.

In the present reference period the research activity on solar cooling was focalized on the flexible operation of medium temperature solar cooling plants.

The development of an advanced control system has been planned: a novel control architecture, based on a multi-level hierarchical Model Predictive Control, has been designed. During the present reference period, an appropriate mathematical model of the whole plant has been built and validated againstexperimental data. The layout of the experimental plant in RSE was modified in order to perform the first preliminary tests in variable configuration mode. The first experimental campaign was conducted with a simplified MPC controller. Generally, the results showed a better performance in terms of PER for the variable configuration operation in comparison with the standard, fixed configuration and constant operating setpoints. During some days a maximum average PER value of 5 was reached: this happened during all the refrigeration season regardless the amount of the refrigeration demand. PER maximization also resulted into solar factor maximization.

Finally, the difficult techno-economic feasibility of thermal solar cooling plants was considered and analyzed in the actual European price scenario for electrical energy and natural gas. A literatureinvestigation was performed and a selection of the most interesting works focalized on the enhancing of performance factors and investment cost was done. Starting from these cases, a specific study was performed in order to evaluate the application of these enhancing solutions to the medium temperaturesolar cooling plant realized by RSE.

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