SOLAR THERMAL POWER
Every hour, the Earth receives more energy from the Sun that is used by the entire world in a year.
The heat from the sun can be used to heat water. In a domestic solar water heater, sunlight heats water through glass panels. If the sunlight is concentrated, it can produce temperatures high enough to be used for electricity generation.
How It Works
Using parabolic trough mirrors, fresnel (pronounces “free-nell”) lenses or heliostats, which move to keep the sun in focus, sunlight can be concentrated to produce higher temperatures. This boils water or other fluids to produce steam. The steam is used to power a turbine which generates power for the electricity grid.
Concentrated solar thermal power collectors are best located in desert areas where there is plenty of sunshine. Ideal locations include North Africa, the American West and Western Australia.
Concentrated solar power plant using parabolic troughs
Solar thermal plants need quite large areas of land - about one square kilometre is needed to produce enough power for 50,000 households. That’s another reason for locating them in “wasteland” area like deserts. Nevertheless, covering just 1% of the Earth’s surface with solar thermal collectors would produce enough electricity to meet all of the world’s needs.
Solar thermal power generation requires no fuel and produces no pollution.