Although concentred solar power (CSP) generation is probably better known, solar thermal (ST) collectors employ a much lower level of technology and convert far more of the sun’s energy into useful heat, according to a new market analysis.
The report “Solar Thermal Power Report” by ReportBuyer describes solar thermal energy technology in its various applications, describing the various technologies: collectors, receivers, heat storage systems and energy conversion units.
CSP uses lenses and mirrors to directly tranfers solar energy into electricity via conventional steam and heat turbines or by focusing light onto photovoltaics. The Ivanpah project being developed by BrightSource in California is a high-profile example.
Solar thermal (ST) collectors–used for water heating and building heating (or cooling through solar chillers)–have more capacity and produce more energy than wind power and more than geothermal, solar PV and ocean energy combined. By 2009 there were 147,000 megawatts (MW) of wind power, 174,000 MW of solar thermal collectors. By comparison there was only about 1,000 MW of CSP and about 17,000 MW of solar PV capacity.
The last two or three years have seen strides forward in all solar technologies and many 50 to 100 MW CSP power generation projects are being developed, with larger ones in the pipeline. The major solar thermal markets–China, USA, Turkey, Germany and Japan are outlined in the new report. It also states that Israel is important for per capita use but relatively small in total. Between them, they have 75% of the global market for solar thermal collectors and ancillary equipment.
The growing CSP markets of Spain and the United States are also outlined, with lists of projects already competed, under construction and planned.