The CSP method of converting the sun’s heat into electricity was once dominant; however, after photovoltaic (PV) solar prices plummeted, the CSP process faded. Even with batteries, PV, unlike CSP, does not provide long-term, dispatchable generation required by high-renewable energy systems.
CSP: How It Works
The concept of concentrated solar power (CSP) involves the use of mirrors to generate electricity. Using mirrors, sunlight is reflected, concentrated, and focused on a specific area, which is then converted into heat. This heat is then used to create steam that drives a turbine, generating electrical power. As CSP technology can store the heat produced, it can be repeated continuously. Therefore, it can be used on days where there is no sun, as well as before sunrise and after sunset.
One of the most obvious advantages of CSP is that it is renewable. It can be used continuously and will never run out, making it a sustainable energy source. In addition to reducing carbon footprint, CSP uses the earth’s natural resources instead of fossil fuels which emit carbon dioxide when burned, improving air quality and reducing the rate of climate change.
In contrast to solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind power, which provide intermittent supplies of electricity, CSP provides a relatively continuous source of electricity. The electricity generated by CSP plants is predictable and reliable because solar energy can be stored in the form of molten salts.
How Do Photovoltaics and Concentrated Solar Power Differ?
CSP systems convert the sun’s energy using mirrors to drive a heat engine and produce electricity. PV systems convert the sun’s energy using panels to produce electricity.
CSP has many benefits, but it also has some disadvantages, especially in populated areas, where it is not economically feasible to operate CSP plants. It is costly to operate CSP plants, and it is difficult to find materials that can withstand high temperatures. Concentrated solar power uses a large amount of water to drive steam turbines and cool thermochemical reactors.
Looking for an affordable solar power solution for your home or business? Renaissance Solar can assist. Contact us today for a free quote.