Solar Power There are two electricity technologies, solar photovoltaics (using light) and solar thermal (using heat).
Concentrated solar thermal power (also called concentrating solar power, concentrated solar thermal, and CSP) systems use mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight, or solar thermal energy, onto a small area. Electrical power is produced when the concentrated light is converted to heat, which drives a heat engine (usually a steam turbine) connected to an electrical power generator.
CSP is being widely commercialized and the CSP market has seen about 740 MW of generating capacity added between 2007 and the end of 2010. More than half of this (about 478 MW) was installed during 2010, bringing the global total to 1095 MW. Spain added 400 MW in 2010, taking the global lead with a total of 632 MW, while the US ended the year with 509 MW after adding 78 MW, including two fossil–CSP hybrid plants.
CSP growth is expected to continue at a fast pace.
CSP is not to be confused with concentrated photovoltaics (CPV). In CSP, the concentrated sunlight is converted to heat, and then the heat is converted to electricity. In CPV, the concentrated sunlight is converted directly to electricity via the photovoltaic effect. - from Wikipedia
Concentrating solar thermal generates electricity in several ways, with the common element of a solar concentrator (mirror or lens) used to concentrate sunlight to create heat that will be converted to electricity.Projects are generally 5 MW or larger, with several proposed projects in the U.S. and internationally of several hundred megawatts.Every commercial concentrating solar technology also lends itself to thermal energy storage, because the sun’s heat can be stored in a variety of methods (most involving molten salts) for several hours. Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/13a0S)
Photovoltaic systems (PV system) use solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity. A system is made up of one or more solar panels, usually a controller or power converter, and the interconnections and mounting for the other components. A small PV system may provide energy to a single consumer, or to an isolated device like a lamp or a weather instrument.
Large grid-connected PV systems can provide the energy needed by many customers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_photovoltaics
Distributed or Small Scale Solar Energy
Even as renewable energy challenges fossil fuels on cost, the average size of renewable energy projects continues to defy the conventional wisdom that bigger is better Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/13a0S)
Solar energy technologies include solar heating, solar photovoltaics, solar thermal electricity and solar architecture,
Photovoltaic systems (PV system) use solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity. A system is made up of one or more solar panels, usually a controller or power converter, and the interconnections and mounting for the other components. A small PV system may provide energy to a single consumer, or to an isolated device like a lamp or a weather instrument. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_photovoltaics
Solar thermal energy (STE) is a technology for harnessing solar energy for thermal energy (heat) Low-temperature collectors are flat plates generally used to heat swimming pools. Medium-temperature collectors are also usually flat plates but are used for heating water or air for residential and commercial use. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_thermal_electricity
Solar thermal energy is used in three main ways: solar hot water heating, production of steam for electricity generation and space heating through building design.
Solar hot water is heated using natural energy from the sun. Solar energy heats up large panels called thermal collectors. The energy is transferred through a fluid (often water) to a reservoir tank for storage and subsequent use. It is then used to heat water for commercial or domestic use and also as an energy input for heating and cooling devices and for industrial ‘process heat’ applications.
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