Mirrors are used in CSP facilities to collect solar energy, which is then used to power conventional steam turbines or motors that generate electricity. The thermal energy collected in a CSP plant may be kept in battery systems and used to generate power at any time.
In a parabolic trough system, curved mirrors are used to collect the sun’s heat and focus it onto a receiver tube. Inside the receiver tube, heat transfer fluid absorbs and concentrates the heat. Then, when the fluid reaches a certain temperature, it will flow through a heat exchanger, which heats water and generates steam.
CLFR, much like the Parabolic Trough system, is based on the concepts of curved-mirror trough structures. However, it employs extensive parallel arrays of flat mirrors. These stackable reflectors direct the sun’s radiation into raised receivers, which are made up of a network of tubes through which the heat transfer fluid passes.
In a Power Tower system, computer-controlled heliostats follow the sun’s movement over two axes and concentrate solar power on a receptor at the tip of a tall structure. The concentrated energy is then utilized to heat the transfer fluid, which generates steam and powers a central generator. Battery storage can be simply and inexpensively added into these systems, providing 24-hour energy production.