The effect of incidence angle on the reflectance of solar mirrors

Florian Sutter, Marco Montecchi, Haymo von Dahlen, Aránzazu Fernández-García, Marc Röger

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Solar reflectors for Concentrating Solar Technologies require a high reflectance in the terrestrial solar spectrum (280–4000 nm). Besides the wavelength, the reflectance of solar mirror materials is also dependent on the incidence angle of the incoming sunlight. The commonly used measurement equipment measures the reflectance at fixed near-normal incidence angles, typically between 8° and 15°. In this work, the annual incidence angle frequency distribution has been calculated for a LS3/Eurotrough-type parabolic-trough collector located at different sites, and for the heliostat field of the solar tower system CESA-1 located at the Plataforma Solar de Almería in Tabernas, southern Spain. It was found that the most frequent incidence angles registered in the solar field are quite higher than the ones at which reflectance is measured with state of the art instruments, obtaining mean incidence angles in the range of 28–35° depending on the type and location of the solar field. A methodology to predict the off-normal reflectance of silvered-glass mirrors based on near-normal reflectance and transmittance measurements of the uncoated glass is presented. The complex refractive index of 2, 4 and 5 mm thick solar glass and the deposited silver was determined and used to model the solar weighted reflectance of silvered-glass mirrors at different incidence angles. The model was compared to experimental measurements. For this purpose, the Spectral Specular Reflectometer (S2R) has been improved and updated with a polarizer crystal to measure reflectance at perpendicular (s-pol) and parallel (p-pol) polarizations up to incidence angles of θ = 70°. Eight solar mirror materials (three silvered-glass mirrors of different glass thicknesses, two anti-soiling coated glass mirrors, two enhanced aluminum reflectors and a silvered polymer film) have been measured over a broad range of incidence angles and the results have been weighted with the annual incidence angle frequency distribution. The obtained incidence angle-weighted reflectance is a suited parameter to compare the efficiency of solar mirror materials taking into account their use in a specific collector type and location.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119 - 133
Number of pages15
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films

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