kernenergien | solar sutainable strategy

Solar Thermal Power Plants: Parabolic Trough

Characteristic for this power plant type is the parabolic mirror. It consists of a parabolic arched mirror which concentrates the sunlight on a central absorber tube.

tech-trough.jpg Functional Diagram

Technology desciption

The mirrors are driven by a uniaxial tracking system in order to keep the sunlight focussed on the absorber tube. The medium will be heated up to temperatures above 400 °C. Therefore it can serve the energy for electricity production. It is also possible to use the heat for industrial processes like sea water desalination.

The application field of parabolic through power plants for superheated steam are plentiful. Besides the simple electricity production using conventional turbines and generators, hybrid operation is even more interesting, because the number of full load hours of the components can be raised extremely. By using fossil fuel for the same turbine, electricity production can be made more cost efficient and will be independent from the sunlight. On a medium term heat storage systems will replace the fossil back up firing. This way solar electricity can be produced even at night.

Since 1984 a special thermo-oil is used in parabolic through power plants in California, USA. Via heat exchanger, water vapour for the operation of turbines is made. For more than 20 years these power plants with a power of 354 MW produce electricity for the American energy grid in order to supply their citizens absolutely reliable. The power plants are used commercially. For further developments direct vaporisation is focussed. But there are several more possibilities to reduce cost and raise the efficiency.

Assets and Drawbacks

  • Extensive reduction of climate and corrosive gases like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and dust particles
  • Suitable for Joint Implementation projects
  • Operational range between 10 to 1000 MW
  • Solar thermal electricity production can be integrated in conventional power plant technology
  • Supply of industrial heat for e.g. sea water desalination
  • Supply of guaranteed power in hybrid mode independent from the sun
  • Cheapest solar electricity (10 to15 €/MWh in sunny countries)
  • Commercial operation for more than 20 years
  • Constant development in techniques and cost reduction in maintenance

Further detailed information can be found at
Technology Characterization Solar Parabolic Trough


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