SunLab: Concentrating Solar Power Program Overview Page: 1 of 4
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Concentrating Solar Power Program
Advancing solar power into the 21st century.
Over the last decade, the U.S. solar thermal
industry has established a track record in the
power industry by building and operating
utility-scale power plants with a combined
rated capacity of 354 megawatts (MW). The
technology used in these power plants is based
on years of research and development (R&D),
much of it sponsored by the U.S. Department
of Energy (DOE).
DOE's Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)
Program is collaborating with its partners in
the private sector to develop two new solar
technologies - power towers and dish/ engines
- to meet the huge commercial potential for
What Is Concentrating Solar
Concentrating solar power plants produce
electric power by first converting the sun's
energy into heat, and then to electricity in a
conventional generator. The plants consist of
two parts, one that collects solar energy and
converts it to heat and another that converts
heat energy to electricity. Systems are usually
classified by how they collect solar energy:
" troughs - concentrate the sun's energy onto
a receiver pipe located along the focal line of
a parabolically curved trough-shaped reflec-
tor. Oil flowing through the pipes is heated
to about 400 C (752 F), and the heat energy
is then used to generate electricity in a con-
ventional steam generator. These are utility-
scale power plants, such as those operating
in California, with capacities that range from
30 to 80 MW each.
" power towers - include a field of heliostats
that reflect the sun's rays to a receiver locat-
ed on top of a tall tower. The energy is
absorbed by a molten-salt working fluid and
stored for up to several hours at 565 C
(1050 F) in large tanks located at the base
The sun's energy is concentrated on an oil-
filled tube running along the focal line of the
parabolically shaped trough.
Large sun-tracking mirrors, called heliostats,
focus the sun's energy on a receiver located
atop a tall tower.
The sun's energy is concentrated on a receiver
and generator located at the focal point of the
parabolically shaped dish.
Here’s what’s next.
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SunLab: Concentrating Solar Power Program Overview, book, November 24, 1998; Golden, Colorado. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc715105/m1/1/: accessed October 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.