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1). Many of these pilot plants, covering the whole spectrum of available technology, failed to reach the expected performance levels. In the following decades, activities concentrated on further R&D for technology improvements. In the mid 1980s, the American/Israeli company Luz International achieved a major technology breakthrough when they started to build parabolic trough power stations in series. Each of the nine Solar Electric Generating Stations (SEGS) plants built between 1984 and 1991 in the California Mojave desert was bigger by far than any of the research pilot plants built shortly before.

The latter is now ready to be commercially demonstrated, and a project led by Sener (Spain) is promoting the first commercial central receiver plant with support of EU and Spanish grants. This proposed 15 MWe Solar Tres plant in Spain will utilise a 16-hour molten-salt storage system to run on a 24-hour basis in summertime. Molten-salt storage coupled with central receiver/tower technology is unique among all renewable energy technologies in that the addition of storage3 reduces energy cost and increases its value by enabling dispatch to peak demand periods.

Dish/engine prototypes which have successfully operated over the last ten years include 7 to 25 kW units developed in the United States by Advanco, the McDonnell Douglas Corporation, the Cummins Engine Company and others, although large scale deployment has not yet occurred. In Spain, six units with a 9 to 10 kW rating are currently operating successfully. These were developed by the German company Schlaich, Bergermann und Partner (sbp), working with Mero (suppliers of the collector system) and SOLO Kleinmotoren (Stirling engine).

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Solar Thermal - Electrical Energy Systems

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