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[en] A PTC (parabolic trough solar collector) focuses direct solar radiation reflected by the reflector onto a receiver located on its focal line. The solar flux distribution on the absorber is non-uniform generally, thus it needs to carry out optical simulation to analyze the concentrated flux density and optical performance. In this paper, three different optical models based on ray tracing for a PTC were proposed and compared in detail. They were proved to be feasible and reliable in comparison with other literature. Model 1 was based on MCM (Monte Carlo Method). Model 2 initialized photon distribution with FVM (Finite Volume Method), and calculated reflection, transmission, and absorption by means of MCM. Model 3 utilized FVM to determine ray positions initially, while it changed the photon energy by multiplying reflectivity, transmissivity and absorptivity. The runtime and computation effort of Model 3 were approximately 40% and 60% of that of Model 1 in the present work. Moreover, the simulation result of Model 3 was not affected by the algorithm for generating random numbers, however, it needed to take account of suitable grid configurations for different sections of the system. Additionally, effects of varying the geometric parameters for a PTC on optical efficiency were estimated. Effect of offsetting the absorber in width direction of aperture was greater than that in its normal direction at the same offset distance, which was more obvious with offset distance increasing. Furthermore, absorber offset at the opposite direction of tracking error was beneficial for improving optical performance. The larger rim angle (≤90°) was, the less sensitive optical efficiency was to tracking error for the same aperture width of a PTC. In contrast, a larger aperture width was more sensitive to tracking error for a certain rim angle. - Highlights: • Three different optical models for parabolic trough solar collectors were derived. • Their running time, computation effort, and characteristics were compared. • It can analyze optical performance of a PTC (parabolic trough solar collector). • Effects of varying PTC's geometric parameters on optical efficiency were estimated. • The simulated results were essential for optimizing the PTC's geometric parameters.