A heuristic method for optimizing a solar power tower system is proposed, in which both heliostat field (heliostat locations and number) and the tower (tower height and receiver size) are simultaneously considered. Maximizing the thermal energy collected per unit cost leads to a difficult optimization problem due to its characteristics: it has a nonconvex black-box objective function with computationally expensive evaluation and nonconvex constraints. The proposed method sequentially optimizes the field layout for a given tower configuration and then, the tower design is optimized for the previously obtained field layout. A greedy-based heuristic algorithm is presented to address the heliostat location problem. This algorithm follows a pattern-free method. The only constraints to be considered are the field region and the nonconvex constraints (which allow heliostats to not collide). The absence of a geometrical pattern to design the field and the simultaneous optimization of the field and the tower designs make this approach different from the existing ones. Our method is compared against other proposals in the literature of heliostat field optimization.
Computers & Operations Research 57 (2015) 109–122