Surface Damage to Mirrors used in Concentrated Solar Power Plants

by Jincy Varughese

In Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, 30% of investment costs are attributed to the installation, maintenance, and replacement of mirrors. In order to ensure high yield at a CSP plant, the solar specular reflectance of these mirrors must be maintained at high standards. However, several environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and windstorms contribute to the degradation of these panels. The latter, is of particular interest to Karim and a team of researchers from Morocco who, over the course of two years, evaluated the effect of windstorms on surface erosion of CSP mirrors. Continue reading

BrightSource’s Ivanpah CPS Bird Fatalities Controversy

by Mariah Valerie Barber

In February 2014, nearly a year ago, BrightSource Energy, Inc.’s Ivanpah concentrating social power (CSP) plant officially opened in Southern California’s Mojave Desert, after four years of construction. The Ivanpah power plant uses heliostat, software controlled mirror technology to concentrate the sun’s solar rays and direct them to a water tower. The concentrated sunlight is then reflected onto boilers that create steam which is used to generate power by utilizing a turbine ( Ivanpah is currently the world’s largest concentrated solar plant, occupying around five square miles, with 173,500 large “garage-door” sized heliostat mirrors directed to central power towers. BrightSource developed Ivanpah and is now partially owned by Google and NRG Energy. Currently Ivanpah is working towards reaching its full energy producing capacity. Once Ivanpah is operating at full capacity it will be able to generate 140,000 homes annually. Continue reading