Solar Power Tower Integrated Layout and Optimization Tool Background
SolarPILOT offers several unique capabilities compared to other software tools. Unlike exclusively ray-tracing tools, SolarPILOT runs the analytical simulation engine that uses a modified Gaussian series expansion to characterize the image generated by each heliostat. Rather than construct the model of the image using a large number of rays that eventually approach a Gaussian-form image via probabilistic modeling, the error distributions are "baked in" to the analytical formulation to begin with, allowing an explicit model that solves much more quickly than a probabilistic one.
SolarPILOT is also a comprehensive power tower optical-modeling tool, including the ability to generate field layouts in a variety of patterns or land constraints, conduct detailed optical performance simulations down to the level of each heliostat facet, perform optimization of key system variables, and conduct parametric analyses. SolarPILOT is especially unique in containing the analytical engine alongside a ray-tracing core for more detailed simulations. The SolTrace simulation engine is included and controlled via an application programming interface in each SolarPILOT distribution.