central receiver solar power plant

artwork of proposed solar power plant in Australia

Artist concept of what would be the world's largest solar power plant in Victoria, Australia. It is scheduled for completion in 2013.

A central receiver solar power plant, also known as a power tower, a solar power facility that uses a field of two-axis tracking mirrors known as heliostats. Each heliostat is individually positioned by a computer control system to reflect the sun's rays to a tower-mounted thermal receiver. The effect of many heliostats reflecting to a common point creates the combined energy of thousands of suns, which produces high-temperature thermal energy. In the receiver, molten nitrate salts absorb the heat energy. The hot salt is then used to boil water to steam, which is sent to a conventional steam turbine-generator to produce electricity.