What is Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)? Is it different from photovoltaic (PV) technology? ):
Parabolic trough solar power systems, or CSP, are well suited for central, large-scale generation plants that connect to the electric transmission systems. CSP uses the heat from the sunlight to make energy; whereas, photovoltaic uses the light to make energy. In desert climates like the southwestern United States, parabolic trough technology offers the lowest cost solar electric option for large-scale power plants. Electricity from large-scale parabolic trough power plants is 50% to 75% cheaper than electricity from photovoltaic systems (NREL). In addition, CSP systems use thermal energy, which can be readily stored in thermal storage systems utilizing molten salts. PV systems use electrical energy, which is less cost-effective to store.