What Is Concentrated Solar Power?

by | Oct 31, 2023 | Glossary and FAQs, Renewable Energy

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Solar power is widely regarded as a flagship for renewable energy due to its consistent growth over the past few decades. Concentrated solar power (CSP) is a method of producing energy by utilizing mirrors to reflect sunlight. The mirror reflects, focuses, and concentrates natural sunlight onto a particular area, transforming it into heat. The steam produced by the heat is then used to power a turbine to produce electricity.

Concentrated solar power (CSP) plants can retain thermal energy, which can subsequently be utilized to generate electricity as and when required. The United States currently has approximately 1,815 megawatts of operational CSP plants.

What Is Concentrated Solar Power?

Source: Jensen <istock>

How does concentrated solar power work?

Concentrated solar power technology utilizes four alternative technology approaches :

i) Through systems

ii) Power tower

iii) Fresnel system

iv) Dish systems

i) Trough Systems

The energy system employs extensive reflectors shaped like the letter U, which feature oil-filled pipes running down their center or focal point. These reflective surfaces are angled towards the sun and concentrate sunlight onto the pipes, causing the oil inside to heat up to temperatures as high as 750 degrees Fahrenheit. The heated oil is subsequently used to boil water, generating steam that powers conventional turbines and generators.

ii) Power Tower Systems

Power tower or central receiver systems use heliostats, which are sun-tracking mirrors, to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver located at the apex of a tower. The heat transfer fluid, which is heated to a temperature of approximately 600ºC, is employed to produce steam, and this steam is subsequently utilized in a conventional turbine generator to generate electricity.

iii) Fresnel Systems

A multitude of collectors are arranged in rows. The mirrors are placed horizontally on the ground and redirect the sunlight toward the above receiver pipe. Fresnel technology follows the same principles as trough and tower systems, with the added benefit of including storage in a power block or producing steam directly.

iv) Parabolic Dish Systems

A dish with a parabolic shape functions as a concentrator that reflects solar energy onto a receiver mounted on a structure equipped with a tracking system that follows the sun. The heat that is collected is then utilized by a heat engine. Due to its ability to attain extremely high temperatures, this system is highly suitable for deployment in solar reactors.

Advantages of concentrated solar power

  • The Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technology offers straightforward implementations and operations.
  • Additionally, it serves as a supplementary source of energy to other sources.
  • The CSP technology provides an uninterrupted source of electricity, as it generates power day and night.
  • Furthermore, it converts solar energy into a transportable form of energy.

Disadvantages of concentrated solar power

  • Geothermal energy is heavily reliant on specific locations and the availability of vast land areas.
  • Furthermore, there are significant potential ecological drawbacks that must be considered. The cost of thermal storage materials is another factor that must be considered.
  • Additionally, there may be a lack of attention from both researchers and investors in this field.

In conclusion, Concentrated Solar Power represents a promising and sustainable technology that harnesses the sun’s energy through a unique concentration process. With advancements in technology and increased adoption, CPS has the potential to play a significant role in our transition to a more sustainable and renewable energy future, reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

Also Read: How Does A Solar Light Work?

Author

  • Michael Thompson

    Michael Thompson is an esteemed expert in the renewable energy sector, with a profound experience spanning over 25 years. His expertise encompasses various sustainable energy solutions, including solar, wind, hydroelectric, and energy efficiency practices. Michael discusses the latest trends in renewable energy and provides practical advice on energy conservation.

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