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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Solar Thermal Power shows great potential

Solar Thermal Power (STP) or Solar Concentrator Power (SCP) is a relatively new technology and offers great potential to the sunniest countries of the world in a similar fashion to that being harvested by European nations through wind farming.

Solar thermal power uses direct sunlight and the heat it generates is used to heat water, to raise the ambient temperature in buildings or to create steam which is used to power electricity generators.

The most promising regions of the world to exploit this new concept are the South-Western United States, Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean countries of Europe, Iran, Pakistan and the desert regions of India, the former Soviet Union, China and Australia.

Until fairly recently, the solar thermal industry has used low-tech technology and been largely concerned with domestic and building applications for heating space and water and for cooking.

However, the solar thermal industry has recently taken a more sophisticated approach and progressed to more high-tech applications involving relatively large electricity generation projects in a number of countries.

Producing electricity from the energy in the sun’s rays is a fairly straightforward process. Direct solar radiation can be concentrated and collected by a range of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technologies to provide medium to high temperature heat. The heat is then used to operate a conventional power cycle such as through a gas or steam turbine.

One of the major benefits of this form of energy generation is that it is one of the most benign methods of power generation around. It is silent, uses no fuel other than sunlight and there are no harmful emissions.

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