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Concentrated-Solar Power (CSP)

Concentrated Solar thermal Power (CSP) plants concentrate direct solar radiation to produce high-temperature heat. This heat is then used to generate electricity within conventional power cycles using steam turbines, gas turbines or Stirling engines.

The concentration is done with glass parabolic or flat mirrors/reflectors that continuously track the position of the sun and focus the sunlight onto/into a receiver. In the receiver a heat transfer fluid is flowing through, taking the heat towards the thermal power block and to an optionally integrated thermal energy storage system. In the power block the solar heat is used to generate electricity and/or process heat. In times with low or no solar radiation fossil fuel can be used to operate the thermal power block (i.e. hybrid operation).

The first commercial CSP power plant began operation in the year 1985 in California, USA. Today CSP systems with a total capacity of more than 1 GW are installed worldwide; major parts of them are situated in Spain and the USA. Especially Southern Europe's Mediterranean countries like Spain or Greece meet the requirements of CSP: high direct normal solar irradiation.

 

Photo © Siemens

 

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