Could mirrors reflecting and focusing sunlight be used to make steam to power electric generators?

electric generators

Could mirrors reflecting and focusing sunlight be used to make steam to power electric generators?
And could insulated water tanks be large enough to retain enough super heated water to generate steam to power the generators be used to act as a buffer so that through the night and on low light days electricty production would be steady without varible output allowing for steady production 24/7/365 if it was sited properly? Would this greatly lessen solar powers twin main faults of expense and inconsistency without the need to wait for cheaper batteries or new more affordible photovoltaic solar panels to be invented or built?

Best answer:

Answer by Gene
On sunny days it would work. Running it all night long on stored heat is stretching it.

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4 Responses to Could mirrors reflecting and focusing sunlight be used to make steam to power electric generators?

  1. Nidavellir

    Yes.

    Here is a link to an article about a power plant in Spain which does just that:
    http://petrochemical.ihs.com/news-07Q2/eu-en-solar-plant-spain-4-07.jsp

    It is an 11-megawatt plant. These things are very feasible.

    It will produce more than 300 megawatts by 2013.

    It uses lots of mirrors to reflect and concentrate light at a single spot to heat water to drive turbines to create electricity.

    €5 million was awarded to the project project because of its highly innovative approach by the EU.

  2. iam2inthis

    The most common is parabolic troughs—long, curved mirrors that concentrate sunlight on a liquid inside a tube that runs parallel to the mirror. The high heat capacity oil, at about 300 degrees Celsius, runs to a central collector, where it produces steam that drives an electric turbine.

    The plant starts up at dawn and shuts down at dark.

  3. paducah_billy

    Yes, it can, but not on dark days or days with no sun. And not after dark

  4. Chris the Dude

    ya, there is some in arazona, they use mirrors to heat salt which heats oil, which heats water which turns a turbine

    oh, and its hard to produce solar energy 24/7 becuse of that problem called “night” :P

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