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    Home > Clean Energy Investment > What Is Concentrated Solar Power


     
    What Is Concentrated Solar Power?

    Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is the process of concentrating sunlight to capture heat and in turn generate electricity.

    Sunlight is focused by large mirrors or lenses on to a material that can absorb high levels of heat. In the most common type of CSP plants, Parabolic Troughs are used, which are large concave mirrors that focus sunlight on to a gel liquid tube that passes across the top of the mirrors. Other systems use a focal tower and molten salt to absorb the heat.



    Parabolic Trough
    Concentrated Solar Power Parabolic Dish


    The concentrated sunlight is converted in to heat and stored at up to 400C by the liquid gel, it is then used to boil water and the steam used to turn turbines. The boiling water to turn turbines is the same system used by nuclear and coal fired plants, it is just their heat source that is very different. In all of these types of plants, turbines are connected to electric power generators that produce the electricity.

    The positive aspect of solar energy is that the heat is already being constantly streamed to us, it just needs to be captured.



    Shams 1 - The Largest Concentrated Solar Plant in the World

    Shams 1 Concentrated Solar Power Plant



    Shams 1 (which means Sun) started construction in the UAE in mid 2010 and started energy production in March 2013. Covering 2.5km square (1sq mile) it has 250,000 mirrors spread across 768 parabolic collectors. It is the largest CSP plant created to date at a cost of £378 million (US$595 million) and has a capacity of 100MW.

    The Shams 1 has one of the best locations, a large open area with high levels of direct normal irradiation (DNI), where row upon row of parabolic dishes are able to capture as much sunlight as possible. As the gel absorbs the heat energy it is then looped through the processing plant where the heat is extracted and generates electricity.


    Efficiency

    In the world of energy production, efficiency is key to keeping costs low and returning on the large investments required. City FX Investment currently focuses on new CSP projects in the south of Spain, that have simple and efficient designs and use proven technology for energy storage and transfer.

    CSP plants, in addition to their main electricity production, are also able to create large amounts of desalinated water and have the ability to terraform land, under the miles of parabolic dishes, that would normally be too arid to farm. Combining these abilities CSP plants can become very efficient and highly productive with barely any change to their production system.

    City FX Investment securely invests funds within these new facilities with the purchase of land and equipment. We focus on large scale CSP plants that are set to be the most versatile and profitable in their field.


    Versatility

    CSP parabolic trough plants are able to generate clean electricity, but also with the waste heat from turbines can be used to create desalinated water. This process improves the overall efficiency of the plant and doubles its production capabilities.

    In addition, the option of terraforming arid land, by sheltering it with the parabolic troughs so that the soil can sustain simple grass land and be used for the grazing of cattle, can help to open up more location options for large CSP plants. This also adds another income avenue for the plant.





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    So What About Photovoltaic (PV) Cells?

    The solar panel or photovoltaic cell is the most well know of solar technology, converting sunlight directly in to electricity. This is the little cell you find in calculators, that power items in your garden and that some homeowners often install on their roof.

    Photovoltaic cells are very simple as they convert light directly in to electricity with no factory or processing plant required. However the downside is that photovoltaic cells only capture 15% of the light that they receive.

    CSP plants are able to capture double the amount of energy from sunlight, up to 30%. Plus the process required to generate the electricity can at the same time produce desalinated water and other raw materials. So CSP plants are more efficient and also far more versatile than simple PV cells. For small scale electricity generation, for personal use, photovoltaic cells can be a good solution. However for large scale industrial production CPS plants are far better and can be just as clean in their production.

       
       
       

       
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