What Is A Concentrating Solar Power System?
A concentrating solar power system is a technology which uses reflective materials to concentrate the sun’s energy; this concentrated heat energy is then converted into electricity. The technologies involved in a concentrating solar power system are: trough collectors, power towers, and dish/engine systems.
In a concentrating solar power system, there are parabolic trough systems which use curved mirrors in order to focus sunlight on a particular absorber tube which is filled with oil or another type of fluid. After this, the hot oil will boil and produce steam, which is then used to generate electricity. These parabolic troughs often use single-axis or dual-axis tracking, and in certain instances they may even be stationary. Temperatures at the main receiver can reach up to 400C, and the heated working fluid may be used for either medium temperature space or process heat, or even to operate a steam turbine for power or electricity generation.
Power towers are involved with systems of their own, and these systems use a large field of sun-tracking mirrors, which are called heliostats, and which are used to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver that is located on the top of a tower. Solar power towers consist of a large field of sun-tracking mirrors, and the enormous amount of energy, concentrated at one point, can produce temperatures of anywhere from 550-1500C. This gained thermal energy can then be used for the heating of water or molten salt, which then also saves energy for later use.
The solar power tower is basically a type of solar furnace which uses a tower in order to receive the focused sunlight. These towers use an array of flat and moveable mirrors in order to focus the sun’s rays upon the central tower, and the more recent heat transfer material that is gained here is that of liquid sodium.
Sodium is a metal that has an incredibly high heat capacity, and although water was originally used as the heat transfer medium in the earlier power tower versions, this system did not allow for power generation during the evening, and therefore a new method had to be thought up.
A solar power system is quite complex and yet simplistic at the same time, and the results which can be generated from this system are incredibly positive and resourceful, not only to the world as a whole, but to people and homes in general.