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Concentrated solar power (also called concentrating solar power, concentrated solar thermal, and CSP) systems generate solar power by using mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight, or solar thermal energy, onto a small area. Electricity is generated when the concentrated light is converted to heat, which drives a heat engine (usually a steam turbine) connected to an electrical power generator or powers a thermochemical reaction (experimental as of 2013).CSP had a world's total installed capacity of 4,815 MW in 2016, up from 354 MW in 2005. As of 2017, Spain accounted for almost half of the world's capacity, at 2,300 MW, making this country the world leader in CSP. The United States follows with 1,740 MW. Interest is also notable in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as India and China. The global market has been dominated by parabolic-trough plants, which accounted for 90% of CSP plants at one point. The largest CSP projects in the world are the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility (392 MW) in the United States (which uses solar power tower technology) and the Mojave Solar Project (354 MW) in the United States (which uses parabolic troughs).
In most cases, CSP technologies currently cannot compete on price with photovoltaic solar panels, which have experienced huge growth in recent years due to falling prices and much smaller operating costs. CSP generally needs large amount of direct solar radiation, and its energy generation falls dramatically with cloud cover. This is in contrast with photovoltaics, which can produce electricity also from diffuse radiation.However, the advantage of CSP over PV is that as a thermal technology, running a conventional thermal power block, a CSP plant can store the heat of solar energy in molten salts, which enables these plants to continue to generate electricity whenever it is needed, whether day or night. This makes CSP a dispatchable form of solar. This is particularly valuable in places where there is already a high penetration of PV, such as California because an evening peak is being exacerbated as PV ramps down at sunset.
CSP has other uses than electricity. Researchers are increasingly investigating solar thermal reactors for the production of solar fuels, making solar a fully transportable form of energy in the future. These researchers use the solar heat of CSP as a catalyst for thermochemistry to break apart molecules of H2O, to create hydrogen (H2) from solar energy with no carbon emissions. By splitting both H2O and CO2, other much-used hydrocarbons – for example, the jet fuel used to fly commercial airplanes – could also be created with solar energy rather than from fossil fuels.In 2017, CSP represented less than 2% of worldwide installed capacity of solar electricity plants. However, in recent years falling prices of CSP plants are making this technology competitive with other base-load power plants using fossil and nuclear fuel even in high moisture and dusty atmosphere at sea level, such as the United Arab Emirates. Base-load CSP tariff in the extremely dry Atacama region of Chile reached below ¢5.0/kWh in 2017 auctions.

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    Parrot thermal drone

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