Submitted by amyguinan on November 4, 2010 – 2:05pm
Concentrated solar power (CSP) systems use lenses or mirrors to focus a large area of sunlight onto a small area. Electrical power is produced when the concentrated light is directed onto photovoltaic surfaces or used to heat a transfer fluid for a conventional power plant. Recent research and developments in CSP systems are yielding impressive results – and beyond the R&D phase, real CSP projects are moving forward and being implemented creating renewable energy and new jobs.
In our home state of Colorado, tests conducted by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden confirm that SkyFuel’s parabolic trough solar concentrator, the SkyTrough, has the highest standard for efficiency in its class. NREL tests show the SkyTrough’s thermal efficiency at 350 degrees C (662 degrees F) to be over 73% efficient, meaning that nearly three quarters of the solar radiation striking the trough surface is converted into thermal energy.
In California six utility-scale solar power plants have been approved in California. When completed, the combined power generation will be 2.8 GW, powering up to 2 million homes. The largest of these 6 projects is the Blythe Solar Power Project, it will be the largest solar project ever on public land and will use parabolic trough similar to that used by SkyFuel in Golden. Beyond the efficiency of this CSP systems, another advantage of this technology is that the heat can be stored in molten salt and used to create power when the sun isn’t shining.
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