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Parabolic Trough Power Plant
Plataforma Solar de Almeria
"Plataforma Solar de Almeria"

Concave mirrors and lenses have been used for ages to concentrate the sun’s rays on a single point and therefore multiply its strength. Mirrors with a parabolic cross-section are especially suited to this purpose because they can also focus the outer rays towards the middle. If a mirror is designed in the form of a trough, the solar radiation, concentrated about forty times, can be focused on an absorber tube with a heat-conducting fluid inside.

The best use for these tube collector thermal solar power systems is for domestic water heating and heating support. A well-known high-tech system is the parabolic trough power plant in the Californian Mojave Desert. It has a total of 2.3 million square meters of mirror surface area and produces 354 megawatts of electricity. To improve their performance they can be rotated about their roll axis. The heat-conducting fluid is heated up to 400 ºC and by means of a turbine and generator then produces electric current. Similar large plants are also planned at Crete, Egypt and India and should be able to deliver electricity at a price of about $ 0.07 (0.08 €) per kilowatt-hour.

The Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung (ZSF)) in Stuttgart, Germany operates an experimental plant in Almeria, Spain with oil as the heat-conductor and heat-storage fluid.

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