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Concentrated Solar Power


Solar power in the form of a bright light gets concentrated when it is converged to a focal point.  The convergence can be done either with help of refraction using a lens or with the help of reflection using a mirror. Here, we are using reflection technology for concentrating the solar power. The concentration of solar power will increases the temperature drastically at the focal point and that high temperature is utilized effectively to produce electricity either directly or indirectly.


The reflecting mirror is usually in the shape of  a parabola or a dish. It has the unique property of reflecting incoming light to a central focal point, thereby concentrating it. The focused area may be linear in the case of parabola shape or a point in the case of Dish shape.


Parabolic Trough

Linear solar concentrators use trough-shaped mirrors to reflect the sunlight onto a pipe containing a fluid. The fluid gets hot enough to produce steam. The trough mirror is in the shape of a parabola. Parabolas have the unique property of reflecting incoming light to a central focal point, thereby concentrating it. Parabolic troughs have a pipe positioned along the focal line of the collector. A number of these troughs can be strung together to increase the energy output. Generally the troughs run north-south and track the motion of the sun from east to wet for maximum efficiency.

The trough surface is generally silver or aluminum for high reflectivity. The tube running along the focal line is called a receiver and can be coated with anti-reflective coating to more efficiency capture light rays sent towards it. The receiver is also sometimes placed inside a glass tube. The tube allows light to pass through but traps radiant heat and the small air space acts to insulate the receiver and minimize heat loss.

Temperatures of the fluid in the receiver can be as high a 400-600 degrees F. The fluid might simply be water, but more commonly it is oil because of oil’s greater thermal density. After the oil is heated by passing through a series of troughs, it goes to a heat exchanger where the energy generates steam to drive turbines and produce electricity.


The heat energy in the form of fluid produced during in the broad sunlight can be stored in a  special pressurized storage which keeps the temperature intact for more than 24 hours. Using this hot fluid with the pressure, electricity can be produced during the night time as the  temperature usually drops down.

Some plants gain additional efficiency by capturing the heat still in the steam after it’s driven the turbines to warm water or other uses.


Parabolic Dish


Parabolic Dish: A practical application of a parabolic dish is a flashlight focus, which is used to transform a point source of light into a parallel beam. The reverse is true. Since sunlight radiation is essentially parallel it may be concentrated at the focal point. 


This systems use a satellite dish-shaped array of mirrors to focus the solar energy onto  the focal point of the dish.  The heat energy produced at the focal point due to the convergence is very high and it will be around 1000c. A receiver is kept at the focal point to receive this very high temperature. The receiver may be either in the form of heat absorbing fluid which can be  naturally utilized for production of Thermal electricity or may be in the  in the form of a specialized engine which is capable of  converting the heat energy into  mechanical energy and to produce electricity directly like in the case of dynamo. 


Here in the both the cases of trough as well as the dish, a solar tracker can be used to track the sunlight and to increase its efficiency.


Concentrated Solar Power System


Solar Parabolic Trough

Solar Parabolic Trough

Solar Parabolic Dish

Concentrate Parabolic Trough

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