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Solar thermal power plants, here a parabolic trough, need a high degree of direct sunlight. Only this kind of sunlight can be bundled onto nodes and lines so that high temperatures are created.
© Solar Millenium AG
Introduction of parabolic trough power plants
Projektinfo 07/2008
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Solar thermal power plants to become practice

Nine solar thermal power plants with a total power output of 354 MWel have been in existence in the south of the USA for over 20 years. Certainly in subsequent years, there has been continual national and international research activity, but until about 2006 further market introduction had been stagnating. Since then, new solar thermal power plants with optimised technology have come into operation and, throughout the world, many other projects are in the planning stage.

In the face of high energy prices, climate problems and the growing demand for electricity, increasingly more countries in the earth’s sunbelt want to exploit their natural opportunities to generate CO2-free electricity from high-temperature solar heat in power plants. These solar power plants can work in combination with fossil-fuel power plant technology as hybrid power plants and are also very suitable for the desalination of sea water.

German research institutes and companies have been committed to developing solar thermal power plant technology for years. They are among the world’s best in terms of components, layout and design of complete systems including power plant technology. Research subsidies from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment have contributed to collector, absorber and storage tank components being developed to today’s high technological standards.


There are four different types of solar thermal power plants with differing reflecting systems on the market: parabolic trough power plants, solar tower power plants, Dish/Stirling systems and Fresnel systems. In Europe, concepts and components have been tested at the international Plataforma Solar de Almería test field in Spain, with whom Germany has been working very closely for more than 30 years. Motivated by the statutory guaranteed remuneration for electricity from solar thermal power plants in Spain since 2004, there are plans to build commercial parabolic trough power plants there.

The first power plant of this kind in southern Spain, the Andasol I, will come into operation in summer 2008, with two more following later. Each power plant can supply around 200,000 people with solar electricity. Research into solar tower power plants is continuing. By the end of 2008, a tower power plant will be connected to the grid as a research project in the German city of Jülich.


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Andasol, Receiver

Andasol, Reflecting Systems
FLABEG Deutschland GmbH

Jülich solar tower
Solar-Institut Jülich

Jülich solar tower
Stadtwerke Jülich GmbH

Jülich solar tower
Kraftanlagen München GmbH