A new, five megawatt (MW) solar thermal power plant that was designed in SolidWorks software went online in August to provide electricity to 4,000 homes near Los Angeles, Calif. The company that designed the plant, called eSolar, used the software to design heliostat mirrors that reflect and concentrate sunlight to a boiler that generates steam and powers a standard turbine to create solar energy.
Funded in part by Google, eSolar is an Idealab company that develops and constructs modular, scalable solar thermal power plants. eSolar standardizes heliostat production to reduce costs and development time, while simplifying deployment. The company uses 20 licenses of SolidWorks to engineer the exact mirror specifications that can withstand extreme winds yet be light enough for easy electronic adjustment.
eSolar’s engineers calculated precise tolerances and part fits on screen and were able to eliminate a full prototype cycle that usually takes up to four months. Contract manufacturers worked with the software designs to ensure manufacturability and ease of assembly. eSolar also used SolidWorks Workgroup product data management (PDM) software to ensure version control while different engineers simultaneously worked on the same design.
Filed Under: 3D CAD, Energy management + harvesting, Green engineering, Software