How Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Works

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) creates and stores thermal energy for use in generating electricity. A CSP plant consists of a solar field to collect the thermal energy, a system to store that collected energy and a power block to convert the energy to electricity.

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CSP creates and stores thermal energy for use in generating electricity. A CSP plant consists of a solar field to collect the thermal energy, a system to store that collected energy and a power block to convert the energy to electricity.

The solar field contains tens of thousands of sun tracking mirrors (referred to as "heliostats") mounted on dual-axis trackers that follow the sun and aim its energy to the Molten Salt Receiver (MSR) at the top of the central tower. Inside the receiver, a heat transfer fluid (molten salt) absorbs the solar energy.

The salt is pumped from a cold tank at around 290 °C, then heated up to around 565 °C at the receiver and stored in a hot tank. The hot salt tank is effectively a giant charged battery. When the plant is ready to generate electricity, the molten salt flows through a heat exchanger where it heats steam to the high temperatures needed to operate the steam turbine generator. The system delivers synchronous, reliable and renewable electricity to the grid.

CSP plants rely upon sophisticated control systems to manage the solar field, storage and the power block and to control the overall plant process from sun to salt to steam to electricity. Automated Distributed Control Systems (DCS) and dedicated solar field control systems are designed according to the plant's specific needs.

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KEY CSP ADVANTAGES:

Converts solar energy into 100% renewable electricity or heat for industrial processes

Generated power can be controlled, varied and dispatched under base load, mid merit or load following operating modes to match system demand requirements

Low environmental impact throughout long operating life (35+ years) with minimal degradation in output

Proven financeable technology that generates energy during day and/or night and provides power up to 24 hours each day

Grid friendly - provides natural grid inertia to the grid and additional supporting services that reduce the need for expensive grid strengthening

Flexible and scalable with unit sizes ranging from 50 to 300MW+ capacity

HYBRID PV-CSP

Hybrid PV-CSP can add 8-12 hours of operations to PV, mitigate intermittency and support peak demand. CSP storage is reliable, safe and environmentally-friendly

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INDUSTRIAL SOLAR THERMAL

BrightSource’s solar field captures, concentrates and controls the sun’s light to produce a solar flux at temperatures of over 1000 °C.

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CSP with thermal energy storage can produce clean, reliable and cost competitive energy at all hours.

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