This heat – also known as thermal energy – can be used to spin a turbine or power an engine to generate electricity. It can also be used in a variety of industrial applications, like water desalination, enhanced oil recovery, food processing, chemical production, and mineral processing.
Concentrating solar-thermal power systems are generally used for utility-scale projects. These utility-scale CSP plants can be configured in different ways. Power tower systems arrange mirrors around a central tower that acts as the receiver. Linear systems have rows of mirrors that concentrate the sunlight onto parallel tube receivers positioned above them.
Smaller CSP systems can be located directly where power is needed. For example, single dish/engine systems can produce 5 to 25 kilowatts of power per dish and be used in distributed applications.