Energy 101: Concentrating Solar Power

Uploaded by USdepartmentofenergy on 08.07.2010

bjbj Take the natural heat from the sun, reflect it against a mirror, focus all of that heat
on one area, send it through a power system, and you've got a renewable way of making electricity.
It's called concentrating solar power, or CSP. Now, there are many types of CSP technologies.
Towers, dishes, linear mirrors, and troughs. Have a look at this parabolic trough system.
Parabolic troughs are large mirrors shaped like a giant "U." These troughs are connected
together in long lines and will track the sun throughout the day. When the sun's heat
is reflected off the mirror, the curved shape sends most of that reflected heat onto a receiver.
The receiver tube is filled a fluid. It could be oil, molten salt something that holds the
heat well. Basically, this super hot liquid heats water in this thing called a heat exchanger
and the water turns to steam. The steam is sent off to a turbine, and from there, it's
business as usual inside a power plant. A steam turbine spins a generator and the generator
makes electricity. Once the fluid transfers it heat, it's recycled and used over and over.
And the steam is also cooled, condensed and recycled again and again. One big advantage
of these trough systems is that the heated fluid can be stored and used later to keep
making electricity when the sun isn't shining. Sunny skies and hot temperatures make the
southwest U.S. an ideal place for these kinds of power plants. Many concentrated solar power
plants could be built within the next several years. And a single plant can generate 250
megawatts or more, which is enough to power about 90,000 homes. That's a lot of electricity
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