Technological Learning in the Energy Sector

Technological Learning in the Energy Sector

Lessons for Policy, Industry and Science

Edited by Martin Junginger, Wilfried van Sark and André Faaij

Technological learning is a key driver behind the improvement of energy technologies and subsequent reduction of production costs. Understanding how and why production costs for energy technologies decline, and whether they will continue to do so in the future, is of crucial importance for policy makers, industrial stakeholders and scientists alike. This timely and informative book therefore provides a comprehensive review of technological development and cost reductions for renewable energy, clean fossil fuel and energy-efficient demand-side technologies.

Chapter 9: Concentrating Solar Thermal Electricity Technology

Wilfried van Sark and Paul Lako

Subjects: economics and finance, energy economics, environment, energy policy and regulation, innovation and technology, technology and ict


Wilfried van Sark and Paul Lako INTRODUCTION 9.1 Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) is a term for a group of Solar Thermal Electricity (STE) technologies that employ tracking reflective surfaces systems for concentrating solar irradiation on an absorber. The working principle is similar to that of a magnifying glass (De Laquil et al., 1993). The absorber contains a medium that is heated to temperatures between 600 and 1200ºC, depending on the technology. Thermodynamic energy conversion efficiencies are therefore high. Carnot efficiencies are theoretically about 66 per cent and 80 per cent for these two temperatures. For thermodynamic conversion a Rankine cycle with organic or water-based liquid as working fluid in the primary closed circuit is often used. The process fluid in the secondary closed system is required to be in a liquid state at high operating temperatures. This liquid runs through the solar receiver tubes and transfers the heat to the primary circuit of the thermal engine. Molten salts and thermal oils comply with these conditions. As a heat sink, the surrounding air is used in a cooling tower. Typical installation sizes range between 30 and 200 MW. First installations have been operational in the USA since the 1980s, and amount to 355 MW. The deployment of CSP technology has been stagnating for a long time; renewed interest in the past few years has led to various studies and plans for new installations. This rebirth is taking place in Spain, which aims to install 500 MW by 2010, and in...

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