Solar thermal power plants
Power plants based on concentrated solar power (CSP) use the sun’s energy to generate electricity on an industrial scale. Solar radiation is optically concentrated, thus generating very high temperatures for the power plant process. This high-temperature heat can be stored, thus allowing electricity to be generated on demand – an important advantage of this technology.
Economic operation of solar thermal power plants relies on a high proportion of direct solar radiation; they are thus typically used in very sunny areas, such as Southern Europe, North Africa, and the Southwest of the USA. In the scope of today’s dynamic market development, many parabolic trough plants, as well as solar tower power plants, are currently in planning or construction, as are large-scale plants with dish/Stirling and Fresnel technologies. In 2013 approx. 60 solar thermal power plants went on the grid around the world. This corresponds to a capacity of approx. 3,200 MW. Another 40 power plants with a total planned capacity of around 6,000 MW are currently in various stages of construction or actual project development.
As far as research and development of CSP technologies are concerned, German companies are counted among the world’s top bracket.