Archimede’s mirrors and the parabolic dish

Archimede Solar Plant and the parabolic dish with micro gas turbine: two milestones of ENEA’s research on concentrating solar energy aiming for the future

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by Tommaso Crescenzi, Simona De Iuliis and Alfredo Fontanella, ENEA

DOI 10.12910/EAI2017-032


Concentrating solar power (CSP) plants produce electricity just as the conventional power stations, i.e. using high-temperature steam or gas to drive a turbine. However, in the CSP plants, the hot fluid is produced by concentrating the solar radiation instead of burning a fossil fuel.

The CSP technology is also referred to as solar thermal electricity (STE), or even concentrating solar thermal (CST) if the solar heat is used for other applications such as industrial and residential heating and cooling, production of solar fuels, or water desalination.

There are four main types of commercial technologies: parabolic troughs (PT), linear Fresnel (LFR), central receivers towers (CR) and parabolic dishes/engine systems (PD). These technologies differ with respect to optical design, shape of receiver, nature of the transfer fluid and capability to store heat before it is turned into electricity. The first two systems concentrate the solar radiation along a line (the axes of the receiver), about 100 times with temperatures of up to 600 °C, while the other two ones concentrate the solar radiation into a point (the focus) as far as 1000 times, with operating temperatures of more than 1000 °C. The thermal energy is then converted into electric power by means of conventional systems such as steam turbine Rankine cycle. …