Concentrated solar power or CSP systems are used primarily for commercial applications and have been used successfully in the United States and other locations for more than 30 years to power large commercial buildings and much more. They do however have some drawbacks.
Solar concentrating technologies use lenses or large mirrors and an intricate and customized tracking system to focus sunlight coming from a large area onto a specific smaller area.
This light, once focused, is used for heating purposes or directed onto photovoltaic surfaces for providing power.
Concentrated solar power systems do require a good amount of land to operate optimally. The installation of a system will disrupt local widlife, however that's pretty much where the impact on the environment stops.
This type of power is beneficial because it uses the sun's rays to generate power instead of relying on messy fossil fuels to do the same work. The big difference is that solar energy is clean and leaves behind no residual effects on the environment (unlike fossil fuels).
It is also easily integrated into any existing power system, which makes it a very attractive option for just about any application.
Also, it's the most reliable and cost-effective way of providing power for large buildings and operations. It can be installed anywhere sunlight is readily available. Once the system is up and running, the operating costs are minimal.
There is a debate within the environmental and solar energy communites over whether it is useful to create large scale solar energy facilities in remote locations. Yes, it is certainly better than using fossil fuels, but consider some of the other environmental impacts.
This is still a relatively new concept as far as applications for residential locations. Although there are a few people experimenting with concentrated power systems on their homes, the most viable option currently for residential use is to heat hot water.
The other way that this type of solar energy is being used in residential applications is to build it into newly constructed (zero energy) homes.
There are solar companies who are researching and testing the viability of using concentrated power from the sun to power appliances and to provide heat and air for existing homes or ones that want to make the switch over to this ultra-efficient type of solar power.
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