Underground Solar Power Plant

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Solar power is the fastest growing sector of the global clean energy market, presenting one of the most promising solutions to counter the negative effects of climate change. Photovoltaic (PV) power plants are the most widely utilized type of solar energy generation.

Problem: Overall sunlight to electricity efficiency of solar PV plants are very low. Moreover, the most valuable assets of a PV power plant -PV modules- are vulnerable against damage that can be caused by weather events like rain, snow, lightning, storm, etc. Electricity production is further hindered due to dust, dirt and excessive heat.

Another downside of conventional solar PV power plants is the fact that they require wide areas of land, which can otherwise be used for agriculture. This aspect has been increasing in importance due to growing global food prices and increasing food security risks.

Solution: This new power plant design utilizes three sets of curved mirror arrays in order to divert sunlight towards an aperture, and on to an underground "light room". The light room consists of a wall covered with PV modules; the ceiling, floor and two side walls covered with mirrors; and one side covered with fans that provide cooling for the modules. Fans also create a positive pressure inside the light room, keeping dust and dirt from entering inside. The light room has a gate that can be closed to turn off electricity production in the case of extreme weather events and provide full protection of PV modules.

This design solves many problems at once:

  1. The overall efficiency and total electricity production is greatly enhanced thanks to redirecting the sunlight that bounces off the face of PV modules back onto them multiple times; this way sunlight that is otherwise bounced back into the atmosphere is turned into more electricity.
  2. Efficiency is further increased by isolating the PV modules from the weather, dust and dirt.
  3. Efficiency is again further increased by keeping the PV modules cool via fans.
  4. PV modules are protected against damage, even theft.
  5. Operating expenses and warranties are reduced significantly.
  6. Land usage is greatly reduced to only the area covered by mirrors. While PV modules and balance-of-plant equipment are placed underground, the ground above can be used for many purposes, including agriculture.

Feasibility and applicability: This design can be applied with commercially available mirrors used in concentrated solar power and concentrated photovoltaic solar power plants, and also commercially available PV modules.

PV modules can be pre-assembled in frames and placed inside the light room in one time.

Marketability: The design is a game-changer for the industry! It will greatly increase efficiency and energy output of PV plants. Investment costs per installed MW, levelized cost of energy (LCOE), as well as construction and maintenance costs will be significantly lowered.

Mirrored glasses in buildings can also be utilized in urban areas, greatly expanding the applicability of the design, closing the gap between production and consumption, and enhancing sustainability.

The design hasn’t been applied yet. I’m planning for a demo-project.


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  • Name:
    Can Baran Unal
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