August 13th, 2020
The series Advances in Industrial Control aims to report and encourage technology transfer in control engineering. The rapid development of control technology has an impact on all areas of the control discipline. New theory, new controllers, actuators, sensors, new industrial processes, computer methods, new applications, new philosophies, …, new challenges. Much of this development work resides in industrial reports, feasibility study papers and the reports of advanced collaborative projects. The series offers an opportunity for researchers to present an extended exposition of such new work in all aspects of industrial control for wider and rapid dissemination.
Concerns about energy independence, CO2 emissions and climate change and the engineering risks associated with nuclear power stations have all contributed to the political push to prioritise the exploitation of renewable energy resources in the developed nations. Key technologies in the renewable energy field for electrical power generation that can be considered commercially mature include hydro-power, tidal power, biomass digester technology and the use of wind turbines and the development of large-scale wind farms.
A technological field that is now finding wider terrestrial application is that of solar energy systems where an installation uses the Sun’s radiant energy as the “fuel” of the system. Roof-top solar panels are a common sight in small-scale systems for domestic water and space heating, but what of industrial-scale solar energy systems? Progress on developing such systems and their control can be found in this very timely Advances in Industrial Control monograph, Control of Solar Energy Systems by Eduardo F. Camacho, Manuel Berenguel, Francisco R. Rubio and Diego Martinez. Given the very many specialised and small-scale applications of solar energy collectors, it cannot be stressed too strongly that the plants and installations described in this monograph are proposed for industrial-scale operation. Just as wind turbines have grown in size and have been integrated in large-scale wind farms to enable the generation of usefully significant amounts of electrical power, so too will the basic mechanisms of solar energy capture need to be developed to industrial dimensions to ensure a significant contribution.
In this monograph, we learn that there are really two candidate solar energy capture principles. The first of these uses photovoltaics to generate a voltage directly,
and the second uses a solar thermal collector to capture the Sun’s radiant energy using one or other of two main process architectures; either a heat transfer fluid (HTF) is taken to the vicinity of the locally focused radiant energy as in the parabolic trough, or the Sun’s radiant energy is focused globally as in a central (tower) receiver system. This simple framework of concepts provides the structure of the monograph. Consequently, Chaps. 1 and 2 present the solar energy basics and some specific control fundamentals for solar energy systems. Chapter 3 looks at the control of photovoltaic plants, while Chaps. 4 and 5 focus on the control and the advanced control of parabolic trough systems. Chapter 6 examines central receiver systems with other possible systems and potential applications of solar energy (primarily as a furnace or for refrigeration) collected and described in Chap. 7. Finally, the critical topic of integrating these plants and installations into a larger-scale market-based network is considered in Chap. 8. This involves the control of plants with a diurnal operational characteristic or a highly variable generation profile and considers the issue of global plant control, so it is not surprising that upper-level supervisory process control makes an appearance in this chapter. The authors state quite early in the monograph “…the integration of solar energy plants in the electrical grid is a challenging problem”; in fact, it is a problem for many of the renewable energy systems, but one where the field of control systems theory and practice is capable of making significant contributions.
The monograph is a valuable compendium of process knowledge for the control of the various solar energy systems and can function as a reference book for those interested in learning more about these systems; it is especially valuable for the control research and engineering community working in the solar energy system field. Control researchers and students might note that although a wide range of advanced control solutions are studied in Chap. 5, there remains an obvious need for a common case study problem prescription to benchmark the different control schemes proposed. The monograph has the valuable attribute of describing many real plant installations and applications. These installations provided the test-beds for many of the control solutions described and results from control trials appear frequently in the monograph to amplify simulation results and to illustrate real – world implementations.
In 1997, the Advances in Industrial Control series published the first monograph, entitled Advanced Control of Solar Plants (978-3-540-76144-6) by the authors Eduardo F. Camacho, Manuel Berenguel, and Francisco R. Rubio. In the intervening years, the subject has matured and developed further. This new monograph shows how the authors and the control community are continuing to make a significant and substantial contribution to the control engineering involved in solar energy systems.
Industrial Control Centre Glasgow, Scotland, UK