Let’s understand the chain of CSP. It goes like this:
Sunlight hits Mirrors.
Mirrors generate heat at the sunlight exposed area.
Heat generated converts to steam.
Steam drives turbines.
Turbines generate energy.
This energy can be stored or used.
Concentrated solar power (CSP) is a method to generate electricity through mirrors. The mirrors reflect, concentrate, and focus natural sunlight onto a specific surface, which is then converted into heat. The heat is then used to create vapor and steam, which further drives a turbine to generate electrical power. The process can be repeated continuously because CSP technology can store the heat produced. Isn’t that amazing? It can therefore be used on days where there is no sun, or before sunrise, and after sunset. CSP technology uses sunlight to create energy but through mirrors.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), CSP generation increased by an estimated 34% huge leap in 2019. Although this exponential growth is impressive, there’s still some way to go until CSP reaches its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which requires an average growth of 24% by the year 2030.
CSP technologies use mirror heating that concentrates the sun’s solar energy onto a mirror
flat surface which converts it to heat. The heat is then converted into steam to drive a turbine
with blades that produce electrical power. CSP plants can use thermal energy storage systems to also store the power in bulk until it’s needed, for example during periods of minimal sunlight. The ability to store energy is what makes CSP the most flexible source of renewable energy.
CSP systems can also be combined with various other power sources to create hybrid power
plants. For example, CSP can be infused with thermal-fired power plants that use fuels like coal, natural gas, and biofuel.
There are four types of CSP technologies: