Crafting Solar Concentrators
By using thin film material and air pressure-enhanced structures, CSPULTRALITESOLAR INC. can significantly reduce the cost of solar concentrators used in CSP plants. In conjunction with the CSP plant, a thermal-based storage system is used to store the heat for continued production of power during cloud cover and at night. Thermal energy storage systems do leak energy, so they are short-term storage used typically for overnight operation, but multi-day storage is possible.
For economic reasons, most installations just have enough storage for 24 hours, as the sun comes up the next day and provides power and recharges the thermal storage system. This solution may provide power 80% (+/-) of the time in locations with more favourable solar conditions. As a backup, fossil fuel would be used within the same CSP plant using the same turbine that runs from solar. Why isn't solar power used 100% of the time? The reason is because there may only be 300 sunshine days a year in a particular geographic location. Some areas will have more, and some will have less.
Although it is possible to have up to seven days of storage, the cost of the plant would be higher as a result. For applications requiring much lower temperatures, a retroreflector may not be necessary. In this instance, the solar concentration is about 28 suns.