Solar turbines consist of
a large array of mirrors,
a heating unit where the light is concentrated, and a turbine. The
mirrors concentrate the sun’s rays onto a storage tank holding a
transmission fluid. This concentrated light is used to heat the
transmission fluid, which is then used to boil water and the resulting
steam spins and powers a turbine, thus converting the sun’s thermal
energy into kinetic energy.
These turbines are nearly
identical to any other turbine, with the only major difference being
where the energy to spin the turbine comes from. Steam turbines are
used all over the world in many different types of power plants,
including coal plants that are well-known for the pollution they
Most power plants burn fossil fuels to boil water and create steam to
power their turbines. The difference is that by using the sun’s thermal
energy to produce the steam allows a power plant to produce entirely
emission free and thus environmentally
friendly energy. The other main
type of solar power plant uses PV cells in huge arrays of solar power
to produce energy and these plants require much more space to than a
solar plant taking advantage of the energy production capacity of steam
One of the major
criticisms of concentrated solar power plants is in their efficiency.
The turbines only spin when steam is being forced through them, which
means that these turbines are directly influenced by the amount of
sunlight being concentrated to heat the water.
When the sunlight isn’t
strong enough to boil the water or not boil it hard enough, then the
turbines will stop spinning. This makes concentrated solar power plants
only cost-effective in areas closer
to the equator that experience a
large amount of sunlight, such as the deserts of northern Africa and
the southwestern United States.
Emission Free Power on a Large Scale
The biggest advantage of
using the sun’s rays to power a steam turbine is that the resulting
energy is produced completely cleanly. Solar power plants would allow
us to finally end the need for fossil fuels. The majority of power
plants burn fossil fuels to power their steam generators, which results
in huge amounts of CO2 being released into the atmosphere.
this isn’t the only drastic impact that fossil fuels have on the
planet. Every step from the initial drilling or mining of fossil fuels
pollutes the environment and is causing long term damage to the planet.
Solar power plants could be a major part of the solution to the fossil
about Solar Turbines
- Low Maintenance Costs
- Require Less Space than
Traditional Solar Panel Arrays
- Large Upstart Costs
- Require More Space than
Traditional Fossil Fuel Burning Power Plants
- Produce Completely
Emission Free Energy
Solar power plants have long been criticized for many reasons, but
mainly due to cost and efficiency. However, as the technology
progresses, new solar plants using steam
turbines are being built that
are becoming more and more efficient at producing emission free energy.
One of the biggest advantages to modern turbines is that they require
very little money or manpower to function once built.
Of course the drawback to
these plants is that they are hugely expensive to build, with a price
tag sometime more than double that of traditional power plants which
burn fossil fuels to spin their turbines. This price is offset in the
long run by the low maintenance costs.
One of the other major criticisms of solar energy in general is that it
requires a large amount of space to produce energy. Of course the
amount of space required is constantly shrinking due to technological
breakthroughs, but it’s still true that solar energy requires more
space than other types of energy production and power plants are no
However, the additional
space is only required for the mirror array which redirects and
concentrates the sun’s rays, and this space is minimal compared to
other types of environmentally friendly energy sources such as
traditional solar panel arrays and the huge fields of wind turbines
which have been springing up rapidly in some places recently.
While it is true that
these power plants take up more space, it is also true that the places
where they would function the best are some of the lesser inhabited
places on the planet. The deserts of northern Africa, Asia, and the
southwest United States have the conditions which are ideal for solar
power plants, and most of the solar plants in existence are located in
of Solar Turbines and Power Plants
The number of solar power
plants around the world is steadily increasing. This will allow for
increased energy production without any of the negative environmental
aspects normally associated with traditional power plants. With fossil
fuel reserves dwindling and environmental pollution becoming an ever
growing problem, the need for solar and other forms of environmentally
friendly energy is ever increasing.
One of the most promising
breakthroughs in the field of solar energy is solar updraft technology.
This technology can be used to combine
solar and wind energy to very
effectively and efficiently produce large amounts of clean
technology works by using mirrors to concentrate light on the middle of
a giant chimney. This then draws in cold air from the ends of the
chimney which spins the turbines inside it. Plans have been developed
to start building several of this type of plant, and if these work
well, then they may well be the future of all energy production.
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