Theoretical Analysis of the Performance of a Solar Chimney Coupled with a Geothermal Heat Exchanger

  • A. Dhahri
  • A. Omri
  • J. OrfiEmail author


The use of solar energy to generate electric power is suggested as a promising technology. Specifically, the solar chimney power plant which generates electricity from free solar energy using air natural convection flow has gained interest during the last few decades. In this chapter, a numerical analysis of the performance of a solar chimney power plant using steady-state Navier–Stokes and energy equations in cylindrical coordinate system was presented. The fluid flow inside the chimney was assumed to be turbulent and simulated with the k–ε model, using FLUENT software package. The computed results were in good agreement with the experimental measurements of the Spanish Manzanares power plant. Besides, some theoretical models were proposed taking into account the air kinetic energy difference within the solar collector. The numerical model was then coupled with a mathematical model for a geothermal heat exchanger to investigate the option of coupling solar and geothermal sources for a continuous day and night operation. Several scenarios were proposed and assessed. The results particularly focused on the effects of the main geometrical parameters of the collector, the weather conditions as well as the effectiveness of the heat exchanger on the air mass flow rate, the temperature rise within the collector, and the overall performance of the combined renewable energy plant. The results show the benefits of the hybrid solar–geothermal plant compared to the single solar chimney plant for day and night periods.


Solar energy Solar chimney Numerical model Electric power Geothermal energy 



Area (m2)


Solar collector area (m2)


Tube diameter (m)


Solar radiation (W/m2)


Gravitational acceleration (ms−2)


Heat transfer coefficient (Wm−2K−1)


Mass flow rate (kg s−1)


Tube number


Collector radius (m)


Temperature (K)


Airflow velocity (ms−1)

Greek Symbols


Thermal conductivity (W m−1 K−1)


Dynamic viscosity (kg (s m)−1)


Density (kg m−3)

τ α

Transmittance-absorbtance product



Solar collector cover


Environment or external








Storage reservoir


Soil or solar


Geothermal water

w, in

Heat exchanger inlet

w, out

Heat exchanger outlet


Solar collector inlet


Solar collector outlet


Temperature increase (K)


  1. Aja OC, Alkayiem HH, Karim ZAA (2011) Thermal field study and analysis in hybrid solar flue gas chimney power plant. In: National postgraduate conference (NPC). Tronoh, Perak: Universiti Teknologi Petronas, p 1–6Google Scholar
  2. Akbarzadeh A, Johnson P, Singh R (2009) Examining potential benefits of combining a chimney with a salinity gradient solar pond for production of power in salt affected areas. Sol Energy 83:1345–1359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Al-Kayiem HH (2016) Hybrid techniques to enhance solar thermal: the way forward. Int J of Energy Prod and Mgmt 1:50–60. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Al-Kayiem HH, Aja OC (2016) Historic and recent progress in solar chimney power plant enhancing technologies. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 58:1269–1292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Al-Kayiem HH, Sing CY, Yin KY (2012) Numerical simulation of solar chimney integrated with exhaust of thermal power plant, Chapter in the special session on enhanced heat transfer. In: Advanced computational methods and experiments in heat transfer XII, WIT transaction of engineering. WITpress, UK. (ISSN: 1743-3533)Google Scholar
  6. Alrobaei H (2005) Hybrid geothermal/solar energy technology for power generation.
  7. Aurélio M, Bernardes DS (2010) Solar chimney power plants—developments and advancements. In: Rugescu RD (ed) Solar energy. InTech, Croatia, ISBN: 978-953-307-052-0Google Scholar
  8. Azeemuddin, Al-Kayiem HH, Gilani SI (2013) Simulation of a collector using waste heat energy in a solar chimney power plant system. The sustainable city VIII, vol 2, WIT Transactions on Ecology and The Environment, vol 179, WIT PressGoogle Scholar
  9. Barbier E (2002) Geothermal energy technology and current status: an overview. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 6:3–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ben Mohamed M (2003) Geothermal resource development in agriculture in Kebili region, Southern Tunisia. Geothermics 32:505–511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ben Mohamed M, Saïd M (2008) Geothermal energy development in Tunisia: present status and future outlook, proceedings, 30th anniversary workshop. UNU-GTP, Reykjavík, IcelandGoogle Scholar
  12. Cao F, Li H, Ma Q, Zhao L (2014) Design and simulation of a geothermal–solar combined chimney power plant. Energy Convers Manag 84:186–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dhahri A, Omri A (2013) A review of solar chimney power generation technology. Int J Eng Adv Technol 2:1–17Google Scholar
  14. Dhahri A, Omri A, Orfi J (2014) Numerical study of a solar chimney power plant. Res J Appl Sci Eng Technol 8:1953–1965Google Scholar
  15. Fanlong M, Tingzhen M, et Yuan P (2011) A method of decreasing power output fluctuation of solar chimney power generating systems, in 2011. In: 3rd international conference on measuring technology and mechatronics automation (ICMTMA) 1, pp 114–118Google Scholar
  16. Ghosal MK, Tiwari GN, Srivastava NSL (2004) Thermal modeling of a greenhouse with an integrated earth to air heat exchanger: an experimental validation. Energy Build 36(3):219–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hurtado FJ, Kaiser AS, Zamora B (2012) Evaluation of the influence of soil thermal inertia on the performance of a solar chimney power plant. Energy 47:213–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Issanchou G (1991) Modélisation énergétique des serres: contribution à la mise au point d’un logiciel de thermique appliqué à l’ingénierie des serres, dissertation, Université de PerpignanGoogle Scholar
  19. Kittas C (1987) Un modèle d’estimation des déperditions énergétiques diurnes des serres. Agronomie 7:175–181Google Scholar
  20. Kreetz H (1997) Theoretische Untersuchungen und Auslegung eines temporärenWasser speichers für das Aufwindkraftwerk, dissertation, Technical University, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  21. Ming TZ, Zheng Y, Liu W, Huang XM (2009) Unsteady numerical conjugate simulation of the solar chimney power generation systems. J Eng Thermophys 30:4Google Scholar
  22. Naili N, Hazami M, Kooli S, Farhat A (2015) Energy and exergy analysis of horizontal ground heat exchanger for hot climatic condition of northern Tunisia. Geothermics 53:270–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Naili N, Hazami M, Attar I, Farhat A (2016) Assessment of surface geothermal energy for air conditioning in northern Tunisia: direct test and deployment of ground source heat pump system. Energy Build 11:207–2017CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pretorius JP (2007) Optimization and control of a large-scale solar chimney power plant, dissertation, University of StellenboschGoogle Scholar
  25. Robert AL, Craig RB, Eckhard AG et al (2012) Alternative heat rejection methods for power plants. Appl Energy 92:17–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Saïd M (1997) Geothermal water in greenhouses in Tunisia: use of computers to control climate and fertigation with cooled geothermal water. Report 3 in: Geothermal Training in Iceland 1999, UNU GTP, Iceland, pp 71–95Google Scholar
  27. Schlaich J (1995) The solar chimney: electricity from the sun. Edition Axel Menges, FelbachGoogle Scholar
  28. Verlodt H (1983) Amélioration du bilan thermique sous abri-serre. Tropicultura 1:59–69Google Scholar
  29. Yan Zhou XHL (2011) Unsteady conjugate numerical simulation of the solar chimney power plant system with vertical heat collector. Mater Sci Forum 704–705:535–540Google Scholar
  30. Yu Y, Li H, Niu F, Yu D (2014) Investigation of a coupled geothermal cooling system with earth tube and solar chimney. Appl Energy 114:209–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Zhou X, Yang J, Xiao B, Li J (2009) Night operation of solar chimney power system using solar ponds for heat storage. Int J Glob Energy Issues 31:193–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Zhou X, Wang F, Ochieng RM (2010) A review of solar chimney power technology. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 14:2315–2338CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Unit: Materials, Energy and Renewable EnergiesUniversity of Gafsa, College of SciencesGafsaTunisia
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia

Personalised recommendations