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Fakultät für Elektrotechnik und Informationstechnik

Master student project group HEAT (HEAT: HIL-based End-to-End ReplicA of a 5G powered solar Thermal Power Plant) successfully completed

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Small-scaled build of a solar energy plant and a screen with the digital twin in the background © CNI
Scaled model of solar plant with digital twin: the heliostats are individually controlled via NB-IoT wireless links.

At the end of 2022, the project group HEAT (HIL-based End-to-End ReplicA of a 5G powered solar Thermal Power Plant) presented its final results to the members of CNI and ie3. The project group is part of the master course Electrical Engineering and Information Technology and challenges a group of students to solve a scientific task collaboratively. Within HEAT, a group of 7 students developed a model of a CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) thermal power plant scenario.

In solar thermal power plants, energy is generated by heating molten salt using concentrated sunlight. In order to achieve a sufficient temperature, up to 60,000 mirrors (called heliostats) are used, which follow the course of the sun through rotational movements. To complete the power plant, UAV's will be used as monitoring units.  However, the large number of participants poses communication challenges, which requires further developments of solar thermal power plants.

Extensive evaluations are needed to investigate the performance of 5G communication solutions in solar thermal power plants. For this purpose, a model of a solar thermal scenario was designed within the HEAT project group. The model includes a tower for measuring the amount of reflected light from an artificial sun, a graphical user interface for controlling and monitoring the setup, and 10 rotatable heliostats. An SDR-based 5G base station with commercial 5G devices was used for communication. A DIY drone with on-board positioning and live camera image transmission completes the model. A short video overview of the final demonstration is available on the CNI Youtube Channel: