Deserts and semi-deserts provide almost unlimited options in terms of location. Less than three percent of the area of the Sahara is sufficient to meet the world's energy requirements with parabolic trough power plants.
Parabolic trough power plants are especially flexible in terms of their implementation. Hybrid power plants can combine solar energy with other forms of power supplies, such as natural or biogas, for example. This means that parabolic trough power plants can also cover base loads, i.e. generating reliable electricity on demand 24 hours a day.
Parabolic trough power plants are the most efficient and cost-effective technology for converting solar energy into electricity on a power plant scale.
Parabolic trough power plants enable cost-effective, efficient storage of energy whereby it is the heat energy and not the electricity which is stored. Thermal storage enables the power plants to deliver environmentally-friendly electricity at night as well. Such storage is already in commercial use at the Andasol power plants.
Parabolic trough power plants have demonstrated real net results for the conversion of solar radiation into electricity of around 24% in summer and over 15% as an annual average. That is significantly more than with the ordinary photovoltaic cells in commercial use.
Unlike other solar thermal technologies, parabolic trough power plants have been proven over a number of years. In California, nine power plants have been generating environmentally-friendly electricity in commercial operation for over 20 years. These power plants have provided an impressive demonstration of the reliability and sustainability of the technical components.