Performance analysis of parabolic trough solar collector under varying optical errors

Belkacem Agagna, Omar Behar, Arezki Smaili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A typical parabolic trough solar field consists of a number of collectors that are made up of two main components: a parabola and a receiver. Various errors arise during the design/manufacturing, installation, and operation phases of the solar field. These errors influence the shape of the parabola as well as the alignment of the receiver. The present article aims to quantify the effect of these errors on the performance of a typical parabolic trough collector (PTC). To do so, a coupled optical-thermal model has been developed. The Monte Carlo Ray Tracing (MCRT) method is used to create and solve the optical model. The latter is then integrated with Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to investigate the PTC’s thermal performance. The losses in performance induced by these errors are quantified. The analysis showed that small errors such as receiver dislocation or tracking error could induce a significant cut in the optical and overall performance. The loss in the optical efficiency due to tracking error of 16 mrad is about 50%. The error in the parabola profile can induce a reduction of 60% in the optical efficiency and up to 80% in the overall efficiency. A 0.05 m dislocation of the receiver can reduce the optical and overall efficiencies by about 37% and 49%, respectively. The results of the present study should support researchers and engineers in defining the optimum acceptable uncertainties through various phases of the design, manufacturing, and installation of the parabolic trough solar field.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1189-1207
Number of pages19
JournalEnergy Sources, Part A: Recovery, Utilization, and Environmental Effects
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 24 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


Dive into the research topics of 'Performance analysis of parabolic trough solar collector under varying optical errors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this