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Parabolic Trough Solar Power Plant Technology

Photo of a concentrating solar power plant.

A concentrating solar power plant at Kramer Junction in Boron, California.
Credit: Sandia National Laboratories Photo Database

NREL continues to evaluate and develop opportunities for improving the cost effectiveness of parabolic trough concentrating solar power plants.

Primarily, we're working to integrate parabolic trough technology into Rankine cycle power plants—the power plants of choice because of their efficiency. We're also working to reduce power plant and solar-field operation and maintenance (O&M) costs by:

  • Scaling up plant size
  • Increasing capacity factor
  • Improving receiver and mirror reliability, and mirror-washing techniques
  • Developing improved automation and control systems
  • Developing O&M data integration and tracking systems.

Specific project activities include participating in the design review of the first small modular, parabolic trough plant to utilize an organic Rankine cycle power plant. We'll also help develop an O&M database to track the plant's component failures and maintenance, and evaluate its thermal energy storage options.

Visit TroughNet for an overview of parabolic trough power plant system technology.