Solar Thermal Electricity

Solar energy can also be used to make a Energy resulting from the flow of charge particles electricity. Some solar power plants use a highly curved mirror called a parabolic trough to focus solar light on a pipe running down a central point above the curve of the mirror. The mirror focuses the solar light to strike the pipe, and it gets so hot that it can boil water into steam. That steam can then be used to turn a turbine to make electricity.

In California's Mojave desert, there are huge rows of solar mirrors arranged in what's called "solar thermal power plants" that use this idea to make solar electricity from solar energy for more than 350,000 homes. The problem with solar energy is that it works only when the sun is shining. So, on cloudy days and at night, the power plants can't create energy. Some solar plants, are a solar system that includes other sources of electricity generation, such as wind or diesel generators hybrid technology. During the daytime they use the solar energy. At night and on cloudy days they burn natural gas to boil the water so they can continue to make electricity.

Another form of solar power plants to make electricity is called a Central Tower Power Plant, e.g. the Solar Two Project. Solar light is reflected off 1,800 mirrors circling the tall tower. The mirrors are called heliostats and move and turn to face the sun all day long to use solar energy. The solar light is reflected back to the top of the tower in the center of the circle where a fluid is turned very hot by the sun's rays. That fluid can be used to boil water to make steam to turn a turbine and a generator.This experimental power plant is called Solar II. It was re-built in California's desert using newer technologies than when it was first built in the early 1980s. Solar II will use the solar light to change heat into mechanical energy in the turbine.The power plant will make enough electricity from solar energy to power about 10,000 homes. Scientists say larger central tower power plants can make electricity for 100,000 to 200,000 homes.

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Solar Themal Energy Information

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