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Concentrated Solar Power

The solar tower power plant on the Plataforma Solar in Almería, surrounded by a mirror field which reflects the solar radiation and focuses it onto three so-called solar receivers. Image courtesy of DLR

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is a technology which produces electricity by concentrating solar energy in a single focal point. This concentrated energy is then used to heat up a fluid, produce steam and activate turbines that produce electricity. The focusing of solar power can be achieved through different techniques such as parabolic trough, parabolic dish or power tower systems. CSP can also provide combined heat and power, particularly in desalinisation plants.

The exploitation of solar energy differs substantially depending on sunlight conditions. The desert regions of Australia and Africa, as well as Mediterranean regions, with frequent sunshine, are ideal places for the deployment of CSP technologies.

Simple and non-polluting CSP technologies can be deployed relatively quickly and can contribute substantially to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. CSP power plants have already been built in Spain with the financial support of the European Commission. They are proving to be efficient and cost-effective.

Nevertheless, the costs of these technologies still needs to decrease to further facilitate their entry into the market. Therefore, additional large-scale coordinated research efforts are still necessary.

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