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Concentrated Solar Power System

The sun has been used for drying clothes and growing food for thousands of years, but only recently has the sun been used for solar power. Concerns over pollution, environmental degradation, and resource depletion have led to an increasing awareness of the importance of developing solar energy. This has led to development of various methods of conversion of Solar energy into forms usable in our day to day activities, Concentrated Solar Power Systems being one of them.

A. Power Tower Concentrated Solar Power System
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technologies use mirrors to concentrate (focus) the sun's light energy and convert it into heat creating steam to drive a turbine that generates electrical power. CSP technology utilizes focused sunlight. CSP plants generate electric power by using mirrors to concentrate (focus) the sun's energy and convert it into high-temperature heat. That heat is then channeled through a conventional generator. The plants consist of two parts: one that collects solar energy and converts it to heat, and another that converts the heat energy to electricity.

CSP technology utilizes three alternative technological approaches: Trough systems, Power tower systems, and dish/engine systems as discussed below;

B. Illustration Of The Trough Concentrated Solar Power System
1. Trough Concentrated Solar Power System

Trough systems use large, U-shaped (parabolic) reflectors (focusing mirrors) that have oil-filled pipes running along their center, or focal point. The mirrored reflectors are tilted toward the sun, and focus sunlight on the pipes to heat the oil inside to as much as 750°F. The hot oil is then used to boil water, which makes steam to run conventional steam turbines and generators.(See image B)

2. Power Tower Concentrated Solar Power System

Power tower systems also called central receivers, use many large, flat heliostats (mirrors) to track the sun and focus its rays onto a receiver. As shown in Figures below, the receiver sits on top of a tall tower in which concentrated sunlight heats a fluid, such as molten salt, as hot as 1,050°F. The hot fluid can be used immediately to make steam for electricity generation or stored for later use. Molten salt retains heat efficiently, so it can be stored for days before being converted into electricity. That means electricity can be produced during periods of peak need on cloudy days or even several hours after sunset.(See Image A)

2. Dish Engine Concentrated Solar Power System

Dish/engine systems uses mirrored dishes (about 10 times larger than a backyard satellite dish) to focus and concentrate sunlight onto a receiver. The receiver is mounted at the focal point of the dish to capture the maximum amount of solar energy. The dish assembly tracks the sun across the sky. The receiver is also integrated into a high-efficiency "external" combustion engine. The engine has thin tubes containing hydrogen or helium gas that run along the outside of the engine's four piston cylinders and open into the cylinders. As concentrated sunlight falls on the receiver, it heats the gas in the tubes to very high temperatures, which causes hot gas to expand inside the cylinders. The expanding gas drives the pistons. The pistons turn a crankshaft, which drives an electric generator. The receiver, engine, and generator comprise a single, integrated assembly mounted at the focus of the mirrored dish. 

What are the advantages of using the Concentrated Solar Power system(CPS)?
  • They use existing components of other forms of power generation e.g generators
  • They eliminate the need for fossil fuels thus a positive impact on the environment.
  • They can be placed to work in dry and hot areas inhospitable to humans
  • They are highly efficient
  • Their operational costs are very low
What are the disadvantages of using the Concentrated Solar Power system(CPS)?
  • Expensive transmission lines to get the generated power to consumers
  • Initial installation costs could be high
  • Small dish/engine systems cannot be economically used in a backyard to power a house.
It is very evident that the world is turning towards the use of renewable energy sources to take care of climate change. Should you be ready to join the world in this venture talk to us and we will design together with you a system that is suited to your budget and your unique needs.

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