Lessons for Policy, Industry and Science
Edited by Martin Junginger, Wilfried van Sark and André Faaij
9. Concentrating solar thermal electricity technology 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...
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