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Concentrated solar power

Concentrated solar power (CSP) systems, are systems that use mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight, or solar thermal energy, onto a small area. Electrical power is produced when the concentrated light is converted to heat which drives a heat engine (usually a steam turbine) connected to an electrical power generator. CSP is being widely commercialized and the CSP market has seen about 740 MW of generating capacity added between 2007 and the end of 2010. CSP growth is expected to continue at a rapid pace. As of April 2011, another 946 MW of capacity was under construction in Spain with total new capacity of 1,789 MW expected to be in operation by the end of 2013. A further 1.5 GW of parabolic trough and power-tower plants were under construction in the US, and contracts signed for at least another 6.2 GW. Interest The global market has been dominated by parabolic trough plants (90 percent of CSP plants).

Current technology
CSP is used to produce electricity (sometimes called solar thermoelectricity, usually generated through steam). Concentrated solar technology systems use mirrors or lenses with tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight onto a small area. The concentrated light is then used as heat or as a heat source for a conventional power plant (solar thermoelectricity). The solar concentrators used in CSP systems can often also be used to provide industrial process heating or cooling, such as in solar air-conditioning. Concentrating technologies exist in four common forms, namely parabolic trough, dish Stirlings, concentrating linear Fresnel reflector, and solar power tower. Although simple, these solar concentrators are quite far from the theoretical maximum concentration. Different types of concentrators produce different peak temperatures and correspondingly varying thermodynamic efficiencies, due to the differences in the way that they track the Sun and focus light. New innovations in CSP technology are leading systems to become more and more cost-effective.

Parabolic trough
A parabolic trough consists of a linear parabolic reflector that concentrates light onto a receiver positioned along the reflector's focal line. The receiver is a tube positioned directly above the middle of the parabolic mirror and is filled with a working fluid. The reflector follows the Sun during the daylight hours by tracking along a single axis. A working fluid (e.g. molten salt) is heated to 150–350 °C as it flows through the receiver and is then used as a heat source for a power generation system. Trough systems are the most developed CSP technology.


but they offer higher efficiency and better energy storage capability. flat mirror strips to concentrate sunlight onto tubes through which working fluid is pumped.Fresnel reflectors Fresnel reflectors are made of many thin. and their modular nature provides scalability. which can consist of sea water. Solar power tower A solar power tower consists of an array of dual-axis tracking reflectors (heliostats) that concentrate light on a central receiver atop a tower. Power tower development is less advanced than trough systems. Dish Stirling A dish Stirling or dish engine system consists of a stand-alone parabolic reflector that concentrates light onto a receiver positioned at the reflector's focal point. Parabolic dish systems provide the highest solar-to-electric efficiency among CSP technologies. and they are much cheaper than parabolic reflectors. The working fluid in the receiver is heated to 250–700 °C and then used by a Stirling engine to generate power. Efficiency 2 . Flat mirrors allow more reflective surface in the same amount of space as a parabolic reflector. The working fluid in the receiver is heated to 500–1000 °C and then used as a heat source for a power generation or energy storage system. the receiver contains a fluid deposit. The reflector tracks the Sun along two axes. thus capturing more of the available sunlight. Fresnel reflectors can be used in various size CSPs.

Indeed.g. ( ) ( ) 3 . It is the ratio of energy radiated by a particular material to energy radiated by a black body at the same temperature For a solar flux I (e. Simplifying these equations by considering perfect optics (ηOptics = 1). Eemissivity ε the relative ability of its surface to emit energy by radiation. one can assume that the losses are only radiative ones (fair assumption for high temperatures). Qabsorbed.g.   Absorptivity α is the fraction of radiation absorbed at a given wavelength.: atmosphere at TL = 300 K) : η = ηReceiver * ηCarnot with ηCarnot = 1 – TL/TH and ηReceiver = (Qabsorbed-Qlost) / Qsolar where Qsolar. then this heat is converted into work with the Carnot efficiency ηCarnot. the maximum solar-to-work (ex: electricity) efficiency η can be deduced by considering both thermal radiation properties and Carnot's principle. Hence. Qlost are respectively the incoming solar flux and the fluxes absorbed and lost by the system solar receiver. solar irradiations must first be converted into heat via a solar receiver with an efficiency ηReceiver. for a solar receiver providing a heat source at temperature TH and a heat sink at temperature TL (e.For thermodynamic solar systems. ε= 1) then injecting them in the first equation gives. collecting and reradiating areas equal and maximum absorptivity and emissivity (α = 1. I = 1000 W/m2) concentrated C times with an efficiency solar receiver with a collecting area A and an absorptivity α: ηOptics on the system Qsolar = ηOpticsICA and Qabsorbed = αQsolar For simplicity's sake. thus for a reradiating area a and an emissivity ε applying the Stefan-Boltzmann law yields: Qlost = a εσ σ is a constant of proportionality called the Stefan–Boltzmann constant.

the higher the temperature. the maximum reachable temperature (i. but also the lower the receiver efficiency. blue curve on the figure below) is: ( ) There is a temperature Topt for which the efficiency is maximum. Hence.e. when the efficiency derivative relative to the receiver temperature is null: Consequently. the higher the Carnot's efficiency. i. this lead us to the following equation: Solving numerically this equation allows to obtain the optimum process temperature according to the solar concentration ratio C (red curve on the figure below) 4 .: when the receiver efficiency is null. Indeed.e.One sees that efficiency does not simply increase monotonically with the receiver temperature.

Also.Costs As of 9 September 2009. Mexico. while the fuel (the sun's radiation) is free.5 billion euros in that time period. 5 . and the International Energy Agency's SolarPACES group investigated the potential and future of concentrated solar power. a solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. further increasing the technology's stake in energy worldwide. experts predict the biggest growth in places like Africa. The increase in investment would be from 2 billion euros worldwide to 92. has calculated that the cost of electricity at the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility. Because the technology works best with areas of high insolation (solar radiation). it exports its technology. new CSP Stations may be economically competitive with fossil fuels. Spain is the leader in concentrated solar power technology.65 cents per kilowatt-hour]. Future of CSP A study done by Greenpeace International. The study found that concentrated solar power could account for up to 25% of the world's energy needs by 2050.50 to $4 per watt. and the southwest United States. Therefore a 250 MW CSP station would have cost $600–1000 million to build. Nevertheless. Arizona Public Service (APS). the cost of building a CSP station was typically about US$2. a project under construction in Southern California. Arizona‘s largest utility company. with more than 50 projects approved by the government in the works. purchases power from the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station at a cost of 1. Nathaniel Bullard. will be lower than photovoltaic power and about the same as natural gas. the European Solar Thermal Electricity Association. To put this in perspective. That works out to 12 to 18 cents per kilowatt-hour.

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