Chapter 13

Solar Power


Solar energy is the most important source available to Earth. Solar energy can be exploited directly to generate electricity in two ways. Either the heat from the sun can be concentrated and used to drive a heat engine, or energy can be captured in a solid-state device, a solar cell to provide a source of electric power. Solar thermal power plants come in four main varieties: solar towers, parabolic trough power plants, Fresnel lens plants, and solar dishes, each defined by the method used to concentrate the sun’s heat energy. Solar thermal collection can also be added to a combined cycle gas turbine plant. Solar cells capture light energy directly. These simple solid-state devices are the second-most important ...

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