By: Louis Hamelle, Etienne Letournel (Newheat)
The commissioning of a large solar thermal plant is a critical step. Indeed, as it was written in the previous article about solar thermal (“The operation of a large solar thermal plant explained through LIFE Remine Water pilot”), a large solar thermal plant is a 100% automated process. But, on the other hand, solar irradiation cannot be controlled. So, when ready to produce the first kWh of solar heat, operators must be sure that everything will happen as specified. This article described the steps needed to ensure this in the framework of the LIFE Remine Water solar thermal pilot plant (for a bigger project the principle will remain the same but will be more complex with several design and implementation lots).
This step is also called Factory Acceptance Tests for the hydraulic equipment. It happens at the workshop where the hydraulic equipment is being assembled. The objectives are the following:
Reception of hydraulic equipment, © Newheat
The reception of the Programmable Logic Controller program happens at the automatician’s office. Following tests are realized to ensure the program and supervision are working well:
Supervision of the LIFE Remine Water solar thermal pilot plant, © Newheat
In the same way as with mechanical reception, it often happens that corrections need to be applied during this step to make the program works as expected. Indeed, gaps can sometimes exist between the realization and the understanding of the automation specification.
When the Factory Acceptance Tests are completed, every equipment can be shipped and assembled on site. Then, the “cold tests” can start:
If all those tests are OK, the installation is ready for normal operation at this point.
Solar heat production means that the solar loop is filled with its fluid and that the solar collectors are uncovered. Then starts the production of the first kWh of solar heat. This is now the time for final tests:
Once all these steps are OK. The solar plant is ready for production of decarbonized heat over its whole lifetime.