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Advanced Optical Materials for Concentrating Solar Power

Photo of a 1400W solar simulator.

NREL researchers use a variety of equipment, including the 1400W solar simulator shown, to test optical materials.

NREL works to develop durable, low-cost optical materials for concentrating solar power systems. These optical materials—which reflect, absorb, and transmit solar energy—play a fundamental role in the overall cost and efficiency of all concentrating solar power systems.

Today, the solar collectors used in concentrating solar power systems account for approximately 50% of the total capital cost of power plants. The solar reflector costs for these systems represent about 30% of the collector cost. To reduce the costs of solar collectors, NREL focuses on improving the stability of selective coatings at higher temperatures for use on optical materials.

See information about NREL's Advanced Optical Materials Laboratory and optical analysis and modeling to learn more about our R&D capabilities in this area.

Visit TroughNet for an overview of parabolic trough mirrors or reflectors, and receivers.