Hot hydraulics, controls drive new solar energy field

Powerful hydraulic actuators rotate and tilt solar collector assemblies as they track the sun’s motion in the desert sky over the new Nevada Solar One power plant (link to photos, videos). The actuators and attached controls make minor adjustments to...


Wadsworth, OH – Powerful hydraulic actuators rotate and tilt solar collector assemblies as they track the sun’s motion each day through the desert sky from the new

Nevada Solar One power plant


Parker Hannifin Corp


Trouble-free positioning systems are needed for solar thermal plants to ensure maximum heat. Parker Hannifin helped out with this Nevada Solar One plant.

Located in Boulder City, NV, about 25 miles south of Las Vegas, the plant, a 64-MW solar thermal plant, is the world’s third largest solar energy field. Spanning more than 300 acres, Solar One will generate approximately 129 million kW hours of solar electricity annually– enough to provide power to 15,000 homes. At the facility’s energy field, 760 solar collector assemblies, holding about 182,000 curved mirrors, are aligned in parallel rows on a north-to-south axis, enabling single-axis troughs to track the sun from east to west during the day to ensure concentrated sunlight.
The Parker system on each of the 760 solar collectors includes one customized

Parker HTR300 Series rack-and-pinion hydraulic actuator

, control valves, solenoid valves, pumps, cylinders, seals and wear bands, and pre-bent tubing/fitting assemblies. Each actuator drives 12 panels that weigh more than 2,000 lb; each panel has 20 curved mirrors. Parker provided all components in the self-contained hydraulic system, which uses the same fluid to power and to lubricate the system. The design is predicted to deliver nearly maintenance-free operation for more than 20 years.
Actuators are the primary structural element between solar panels and support pylons. The actuators provide lockdown capabilities with wind load control up to 84 mph– hurricane-force – to protect the solar arrays while in stow.

Acciona Solar Power (ASP)

, a unit of Spain’s Acciona Group, chose Parker to develop the motion control system for the solar panels. Gilbert Cohen, senior vice president of developer ASP said the plant is creating interest in the energy industry because it provides a renewable energy alternative to plants powered by fossil fuels, with no emissions except excess steam/vapor.

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