Heliostat Attitude Control Strategy in the Solar Energy Research Facility of Valparaiso University

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Journal of Solar Energy Engineering


In this paper, a continuous tracking strategy for the heliostat in the James S. Markiewicz Concentrated Solar Energy Research Facility at Valparaiso University is developed. A model of the nonlinear dynamics of the heliostat motion is developed and the open-loop control strategy is presented. Asymptotic stability of the heliostat control using the Lyapunov and LaSalle's theorems were proven. Simulations using the nonlinear dynamic model are presented and interpreted to identify the feedback gain that maximizes the time response of the heliostat without introducing oscillations in its motion. Finally, the control strategy is put to the test during summer-time operation. Data are presented that show that the tracking strategy has an RMS tracking error of 0.058 mrad, where the error is defined as the difference between the desired and actual heliostat positions. Images of the the aperture of a high-temperature solar receiver over 8 hours of testing are also presented to qualitatively demonstrate the success of the tracking strategy.