Market-based clustering of model predictive controllers for maximizing collected energy by parabolic-trough solar collector fields 

Eva Masero, José M. Maestre, and Eduardo F. Camacho 

Department of Ingeniería de Sistemas y Automática, Universidad de Sevilla, Seville, Spain 


This article focuses on maximizing the thermal energy collected by parabolic-trough solar collector fields to increase the production of the plant. To this end, we propose a market-based clustering model predictive control strategy in which controllers of collector loops may offer and demand heat transfer fluid in a market. When a transaction is made between loop controllers, a coalition is formed, and the corresponding agents act as a single entity. The proposed hierarchical algorithm fosters the formation of coalitions dynamically to improve the overall control objective, increasing the thermal energy delivered by the field. Finally, the proposed controller is assessed via simulation with other control methods in two solar parabolic-trough fields. The results show that the energy efficiency with the clustering strategy outperforms by 12% that of traditional controllers, and the method is implementable in real-time to control large-scale solar collector fields, where significant gains in thermal collected energy can be obtained, due to its scalability. 


  • Clustering of controllers to maximize the energy produced by solar collector fields. 
  • Loop controllers can demand and offer heat transfer fluid in a flow market. 
  • Coalitions of loops are promoted dynamically to reach the control objective. 
  • Improvements of thermal energy efficiency by up to 12%. 
  • Feasible real-time implementation in large-scale fields due to its superior scalability. 

Source: Science Direct

Click the video below to play results:


As shown, the system partition changes dynamically every 5 minutes clustering controllers according to the varying conditions of the system operation (e.g. clouds, and dusty collectors) to maximize the thermal energy collected by the parabolic-trough solar collector field. 

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