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Conclusions and Recommendations

The goals set out at the beginning of this concept validation study were accomplished. A preferred design for a lightweight, low-cost heliostat was developed. A subscale prototype was built and tested, and the test results support the technical feasibility of such a heliostat design. The heliostat was able to track the Sun, to develop a precisely pointed reflected beam, to focus that beam to achieve increased concentration, and to adequately resist deflections due to wind and gust loads. Based on the prototype tests, we conclude that the concept is technically feasible and shows definite promise to enable a paradigm shift cost reduction for heliostats and solar thermal powerplants.

A summary of recommendations for the development steps leading to commercialization is presented in Figure 13. The next steps include a refined production design, integration with one or more solar thermal powerplant designs (may be at different power scales); cost engineering; manufacturing and construction plan; risk identification and mitigation; design and test of full scale pre-production prototype; design, construction and operation of a full pilot powerplant; and finally the design, construction and operation of many full-scale commercial powerplants to benefit consumers, benefit the environment, and benefit the United States and the World.

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November 24, 2002

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