Definition: Concentrating solar power
Concentrating solar power
Technologies that use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat. This thermal energy can then be used to produce electricity via a steam turbine or heat engine that drives a generator.
- Concentrated solar power (also called concentrating solar power, concentrated solar thermal, and CSP) systems generate solar power by using mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight, or solar thermal energy, onto a small area. Electricity is generated when the concentrated light is converted to heat, which drives a heat engine (usually a steam turbine) connected to an electrical power generator or powers a thermochemical reaction (experimental as of 2013).CSP is being widely commercialized and the CSP market saw about 740 megawatt (MW) of generating capacity added between 2007 and the end of 2010. More than half of this (about 478 MW) was installed during 2010, bringing the global total to 1095 MW. Spain added 400 MW in 2010, taking the global lead with a total of 632 MW, while the US ended the year with 509 MW after adding 78 MW, including two fossil–CSP hybrid plants. The Middle East is also ramping up their plans to install CSP based projects and as a part of that Plan, Shams-I which was the largest CSP Project in the world has been installed in Abu Dhabi, by Masdar. The largest CSP project in the world until January 2016 is Noor in Morocco and global operational power stands at 4,705 MW.There is considerable academic and commercial interest internationally in a new form of CSP, called STEM, for off-grid applications to produce 24-hour industrial scale power for mining sites and remote communities in Italy, other parts of Europe, Australia, Asia, North Africa and Latin America. STEM uses fluidized silica sand as a thermal storage and heat transfer medium for CSP systems. It has been developed by Salerno-based Magaldi Industries. The first commercial application of STEM was scheduled to take place in Sicily from 2015.CSP growth is expected to continue at a fast pace. As of January 2014, Spain had a total capacity of 2,300 MW making this country the world leader in CSP. United States follows with 1,740 MW. Interest is also notable in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as India and China. In Italy, a handful of companies are trying to get authorization for 14 plants, totalling 392 MW, despite a strong local and political opposition. The global market has been dominated by parabolic-trough plants, which account for 90% of CSP plants.CSP is not to be confused with concentrator photovoltaics (CPV). In CPV, the concentrated sunlight is converted directly to electricity via the photovoltaic effect.Ivanpah in California is running 69 percent below advertised power output, and one Spanish company, Abengoa, that commercialized CSP both in the US and abroad, is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. CSP technologies currently cannot compete on price with photovoltaics (solar panels), which have experienced huge growth in recent years due to falling prices of the panels. Another drawback of Ivanpah is that it lacks thermal energy storage, one of the big advantages that CSP has over PV and most other renewables, which require either large scale energy storage systems like pumped hydro or fast acting natural gas power plants to be there as backup for those times when they are not producing much energy.
- A technically simple way to produce electric power from solar energy: electricity is produced from steam which in turn is produced from concentrated light. The steam drives a conventional heat engine.
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