You might think that every solar power is about the same as each other. You would be wrong.
A solar power is most efficient when the sunlight is concentrated. A solar power system may be a concentrated solar thermal-type (CST), the use of concentrated photovoltaics (CPV), or are working with a combination of the two (CPT).
You may be surprised to learn that the principles of concentrated photovoltaic solar energy goes back a long way; in fact, the Chinese were experimenting with solar energy is about 2000 years ago. According to legend, the Greek scientist Archimedes actually caused the ships of an invading Roman fleet to catch fire with the principles of concentrating solar power – something that actually a Greek scientist was recreated in the early 1970s Solar collectors are used to generate power since the late 19th century, but it was not until the late 1960s that the technology has advanced to the point that such methods of generating power practice were made.
A CST plant uses various parabolic mirrors and focusing lenses to concentrate solar energy and direct it into a small area, generating enough geothermal energy to boil water. This boiling water in turn runs a turbine that operates an electric generator, much the same way a coal or oil fired power plant does.
A concentrated photovoltaic solar power plant concentrates sunlights on photovoltaic cells, which generate electricity directly instead of the energy to heat water. Because of the unique properties of the silicon compounds which are used as semiconductors in photovoltaic panels, and because the current is generated directly, the CPV is more efficient, for example, under most conditions.
Most solar installations operate both types and each has different advantages. CST is better for the production of hot water and immediately climate control (heating and cooling). CPV is more efficient in producing direct electric energy that can be stored for later use
Expense has been the most direct impediment to the expansion of the CPV and CST type of solar generation .; in 2009, would generate the price tag on the construction of such a facility of 250 megawatts require an initial investment of between $ 600 million and $ 1 billion. Right now, it would cost the consumer between.12 and.18 cents per kilowatt hour. However, as solar technology continues to advance is to drop these charges are expected under.05 cents per kilowatt hour in the near future – perhaps as early as 2015.
Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Photovoltaic-Energy—CPV-Vs-CST&id=4816335 by Wayne Hemrick