Have you heard of concentrated solar power? Solar panel installations are commonly used to generate power. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 20 percent of the country’s electricity will come from solar panel installations by 2050. Solar is a clean, renewable and readily available source of power.
All solar panel installations, of course, require photovoltaic (PV) cells. PV cells are the panels that convert sunlight into electricity. An alternative to a traditional solar panel installation, though, is an array of mirrors or lenses. Known as concentrated solar power technology, it’s designed to generate electricity via heat.
What Is Concentrated Solar Power?
Concentrated solar power refers to the use of mirrors or lenses to focus a beam of sunlight onto a receiver. The receiver collects the sunlight and converts it into heat. This heat is then used to drive a power generator.
How Concentrated Solar Power Works
Concentrated solar power setups leverage either mirrors or lenses to create a narrow, concentrated beam of sunlight. Some people assume that concentrated solar power involves the use of solar panels, but this isn’t the case. Concentrated solar power does, in fact, require sunlight, but there are no solar panels present.
Like with commercial solar panel installations, concentrated solar power typically consists of “farms.” A typical farm may feature dozens or hundreds of mirrors or lenses that point to a receiver. The receiver will convert the concentrated sunlight into heat. The newly produced heat will then drive a power generator.
Solar Panel Installations vs Concentrated Solar Power
Solar panel installations and concentrated solar power offer clean, renewable energy. Solar panel installations consist of PV cells that convert sunlight into electricity. The amount of electricity solar panels produce is heavily influenced by their sun exposure. Solar panels that are expensed to more sunlight will generate more electricity than those exposed to less sunlight.
Concentrated solar power consists of mirrors or lenses, which work in conjunction with a receiver and power generator. The mirrors or lenses will focus a beam of concentrated sunlight onto the receiver. As the receiver heats up, it will drive a power generator.
There are similarities between solar panel installations and concentrated solar power. They both require direct sun exposure, and they are both able to generate clean and renewable energy. Solar panel installations simply consist of PV cells that convert sunlight into electricity, whereas concentrated solar power consists of mirrors or lenses that direct sunlight onto a receiver.