Concentrated Solar Power

Concentrated solar power (also called concentrating solar power, concentrated solar thermal, and CSP) systems use mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight, or solar thermal energy, onto a small area. Electrical power is produced when the concentrated light is converted to heat, which drives a heat engine (usually a steam turbine) connected to an electrical power generator.

Key Strengths

As they use cheap mirrors, CSP can be cheaper per watt than traditional PVs. As such, CSP technology is widely commercialised, with  a significant portion of the global installed market in Spain. 

Key Weaknesses
CSP companies have fallen out of favour in recent years, owing to problems with efficiency and economics, particularly when juxtaposed with falling PV prices. CSP systems cannot create enough heat at a high enough temperature, leading to less than optimum efficiencies. They only collect thermal energy, which places a cap on efficiency.

CSP plants have to be very large scale to be feasible, and are not modular with bulky, expensive steam engines. This means problems around planning permission, making most CSP plants remotely located. As such, CSP process thermal energy cannot easily be utilised for other uses.