Solar power stations convert solar energy into electricity.
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There are two basic types of solar power plants:
1. converting solar energy into heat then converting heat into electricity
2. converting solar energy directly into electricity by solar panels.
The center of the solar power plant is the 'boiler' which collects solar radiation energy. Several technologies exist:
- parabolic troughs: solar radiation is collected in pipes in the focus of the troughs;
- energy towers: mirror fields concentrate solar radiation onto a central tower;
- parabolic mirrors: they track the Sun by moving on a dual axis, they concentrate solar radiation onto a sensor or engine in the focal point of the mirror.
In the center of concentration (the focal point) there are heat exchangers that heat or evaporate water (or recently, molten salt). The rest of the solar power plants work like thermal power plants.
Although solar power stations do not pollute the environment, their construction poses several problems. It is only economic to build solar power plants on areas with long hours of insolation and strong radiation.
Solar energy is a renewable energy source. Solar power plants convert sunlight into electricity. There are two ways to generate electricity from solar energy: either by converting sunlight directlyinto electricity or by converting solar energy intoheat, which is then convertedintoelectricity. Here, the latter method is presented.
Parabolic mirrors reflect the incoming sunlight to the focal point, where there is a pipe called the receiver, through which high-pressure molten salt flows. Moltensalt acts as a good heat transfer fluid which can heat up to about 300 °C (572 °F).
This hot liquid flows into a heat exchanger where it transfers its heat to water. The water is heated, turns into steam and spins the turbine. The steam is used by the generator to produce electricity. A solar power plant emits no harmful substances, and it produces no carbon dioxide.
Its great advantage is that once the plant is installed, the energy is free of charge. Its disadvantages are the highinstallationcosts and unpredictable sunlight. Solar radiation is seasonal and its distribution is changeable. The parabolic mirrors also take up a great deal of space.