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Concentrating Solar Power
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Concentrated sunlight has been used to perform useful tasks since the time of ancient China. A legend claims that Archimedes used polished shields to concentrate sunlight on the invading Roman fleet and repel them from Syracuse. Auguste Mouchout used a parabolic trough to produce steam for the first solar steam engine in 1866, and subsequent developments led to the use of concentrating solar-powered devices for irrigation, refrigeration and locomotion.

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. The concentrated light is then used as a heat source for a conventional power plant. A wide range of concentrating technologies exist; the most developed are the solar trough, parabolic dish and solar power tower. These methods vary in the way they track the Sun and focus light. In all these systems a working fluid is heated by the concentrated sunlight, and is then used for power generation or energy storage.

 A solar trough consists of a linear parabolic reflector that concentrates light onto a receiver positioned along the reflector''s focal line. The reflector is made to follow the Sun during the daylight hours by tracking along a single axis. Trough systems provide the best land-use factor of any solar technology. The SEGS plants in California and Acciona''s Nevada Solar One near Boulder City, Nevada are representatives of this technology.

A parabolic dish system consists of a stand-alone parabolic reflector that concentrates light onto a receiver positioned at the reflector''s focal point. The reflector tracks the Sun along two axes. Parabolic dish systems give the highest efficiency among CSP technologies. The 50 kW Big Dish in Canberra, Australia is an example of this technology.

A solar power tower uses an array of tracking reflectors (heliostats) to concentrate light on a central receiver atop a tower. Power towers are less advanced than trough systems but offer higher efficiency and better energy storage capability. The Solar Two in Barstow, California and the Planta Solar 10 in Sanlucar la Mayor, Spain are representatives of this technology.