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.
The photos of this post are from IVANPAH SOLAR ELECTRIC GENERATING SYSTEM, which is a concentrated solar thermal plant in the Mojave Desert, located at the base of Clark Mountain in California. The plant has a gross capacity of 392 MW. It deploys 173,500 heliostats, each with two mirrors focusing SE on boilers located on three centralized solar power towers. The facility formally opened on February 13, 2014. In 2014, it was the world's largest solar thermal power station.
In most cases, CSP technologies currently cannot compete on price with photovoltaics solar panels. CSP generally needs large amount of direct solar radiation, and its energy generation falls dramatically with cloud cover. However, an advantage of CSP systems over PV is that certain CSP technologies can store energy in the form of molten salts, and continue to generate electricity after sunset.
A legend has it that Archimedes used a "burning glass" to concentrate sunlight on the invading Roman fleet and repel them from Syracuse. - In 1973 a Greek scientist, Dr. Ioannis Sakkas, lined up 60 Greek sailors, each holding an oblong mirror tipped to catch the sun's rays and direct them at a tar-covered plywood silhouette 49 m (160 ft) away. The ship caught fire after a few minutes; however, historians continue to doubt the Archimedes story.
In 1866, Auguste Mouchout used a parabolic trough to produce steam for the first solar steam engine.
THE FIRST PATENT for a solar collector was obtained by the Italian Alessandro Battaglia in Genoa, Italy, in 1886.
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