A 7.2 kW radiative solar simulator was designed in order to perform accelerated testing on absorber materials for concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies. Computer-aided design (CAD) software integrating a ray-tracing tool was used to select appropriate components and optimize their positioning in order to achieve the desired concentration. The simulator comprises four identical units, each made out of an ellipsoidal reflector, a metal halide lamp and an adjustable holding system. A single unit was characterized and shows an experimental average irradiance of 257 kW m−2 on a 25.4 mm (1 inch) diameter spot. Shape, spot size and average irradiance are in good agreement with the model predictions. The innovative four-lamp solar simulator potentially demonstrates peak irradiance of 1140 kW m−2 and average irradiance of 878 kW m−2 over a 25.4 mm diameter spot. The costs per radiative and electric watt are calculated at $2.31 W−1 and $1.99 W−1, respectively.

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