What means CSP?
CSP stands for Concentrated (or Concentrating) Solar Power.
You will also find this technology referred as Solar Thermal Power or Solar Thermal Energy, although this terminology makes no reference to the key characteristic of Concentrating, so we prefer to call it CSP.
However, we think the most accurate term is: Concentrated Solar Thermal Power
In other languages:
Spanish: Termosolar, Solar Termoeléctrica, Solar Termoeléctrica de Concentración, Energía Solar Térmica de Concentración
French: Solaire Thermodynamique, Solaire Thermodynamique à Concentration
German: konzentrierenden Solarsystemen (?)
How does it work?
CSP is based on concentrating the direct normal irradiation (DNI) from the sun to a point or a line to get thermal energy (heat).
This heat is then transformed into mechanical energy. This is usually done by transferriing heat to water to produce steam which drives a steam turbine.
The turbine is coupled to a genertor that produces electricity.
As you can see, once we get heat, the rest of the process is not new, it's like other thermal generation stations like coal, gas or nuclear power plants.
The advantage of CSP is to use the sun radiation as fuel, which is free and endless (or at least it will be here for a long, long time).
|This is a basic scheme of the process to convert the sunlight into electricity|
How long has it been used?
The CSP concept has been used a long time ago, you may remember the story about how Archimedes used a "burning glass" to concentrate sunlight on the invading Roman fleet and repel them from Syracuse (Sicily). If we search at the Wikipedia, we can find this: In 1866, Auguste Mouchout used a parabolic trough to produce steam for the first solar steam engine. The first patent for a solar collector was obtained by the Italian Alessandro Battaglia in Genoa, Italy, in 1886. Over the following years, inventors such as John Ericsson and Frank Shuman developed concentrating solar-powered devices for irrigation, refrigeration, and locomotion. In 1913 Shuman finished a 55 HP parabolic solar thermal energy station in Meadi, Egypt for irrigation. The first solar-power system using a mirror dish was built by Dr. R.H. Goddard, who was already well known for his research on liquid-fueled rockets and wrote an article in 1929 in which he asserted that all the previous obstacles had been addressed.
But regarding the current deployment of CSP in the world, the research began in the late 70s. The commercial use of the parabolic trough technology was first established in 1984, the SEGS-I plant built by LUZ in California, and the first commercial power tower is the PS10 developed by Abengoa and commisioned in 2007 in Spain.
Most common mistakes about CSP
CSP is NOT photovoltaic (PV), there are not PV panels. Heliostats are often confused with PV panels in many medias.
CSP is not something new and it is a proven way to generate clean, renewable and sustainable electricity -it is in commercial operation since 1984-