Concentrated solar power (CSP) means the set of technologies used for the production of electricity through the extraction of energy radiated from the sun. Solar thermal energy plants use a system of mirrors and lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight on to a liquid that is consequently heated. This liquid is called the heat transfer fluid. By heating this liquid to a temperature of about 600 degrees, steam is created. The steam, in turn, sets turbines connected to electrical generators in motion. They transform the mechanical energy of the turbine into electrical energy. The central thermodynamic or thermal power plants that harness the energy derived from solar thermal power, utilize a thermal storage system consisting of two storage tanks. In this way the system can steadily deliver electrical power over a 24 hour period regardless of the variability of solar energy, such as when the sky is overcast or in the evening.
The energy generated by the plant is fed into electrical transmission lines which feed the high voltage current to transformation cabins. Here the voltage is lowered to levels suitable for safe usage and delivered to users through low voltage distribution lines.
The use of solar energy is widespread and can be found in the majority of human activity. It can be applied to both industrial and civil usage.Household appliances, lighting systems, and transportation are just several examples of the consumption of solar power for daily energy use. The energy density of CSP depends on the degree of solar irradiance. In areas with a particularly high irradiance it is estimated that every square meter of solar energy a power plant produces is the equivalent of one barrel of oil. Concentrated solar power accounts for less than 2% of global energy consumption. The United States and Spain are the largest producers of solar thermal technology. The environmental impact caused by the construction of a solar power plant ranges from the the destruction of a wildlife area (since plants must occupy a large area of land) to man-made changes to the landscape. The limited diffusion of solar thermal power and the high cost of installation, make this technology less economically competitive compared to other non-renewable energy sources.