Solar Power Structures

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

There are 2 major types of massive scale solar energy mechanism. Most popular is by photovoltaic effect. Namely, Solar panels. Industrial level ones have panes spanning a small town, typically in some desert area. The biggest as of 2018-12-30, is 1547 MW Tengger Desert solar park, in China.

The other type is Concentrated Solar Power (focused heat). Mirrors focus light to a point to heat up some liquid. Then, steam engine etc turn that into electricity.

Of focused heat types, there are 2 main types: (1) parabolic trough. (2) solar ray tower. The parabolic trough uses extruded parabola mirrors to focus light into a line, typically a pipe containing liquid, heating it up to 350°C. The solar ray tower type heats up liquid to up to 1000°C, is more efficient and more spectacular.

The biggest CSP as of 2018-12-30, is 397 MW Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in Mojave Desert, USA.