What is Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)?
Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is a type of solar thermal energy used to create electricity on a large scale. This is not the type of solar energy you see collecting through panels on your neighbor's rooftop. CSP is an important solar technology for homeowners to be aware of because it has the potential to provide significant amounts of clean, renewable energy that could be provided to you by your utility.
Concentrated Solar Power generates solar thermal energy, or heat. This is done using series of mirrors in order to concentrate a large amount of solar energy into a small space. Unlike electricity, heat is quite easy to store in comparison with electricity. This heat is used to power a turbine or engine, which in turn produces electricity.
There are 3 main types of CSP production plants in use today: Power Tower Systems, Dish/Engine Systems, and Parabolic Trough Systems. Trough systems are the most advanced and can be found in places such as California, Nevada, and Spain. Australia National University in Canberra has one of the worlds only Dish/Engine Systems. Power Tower Systems are less developed than Trough Systems, but are more efficient and have better storage capabilities. The only Power System in North America is located in Lancaster, California.