Welcome to the High-temperature Solar Energy research programme of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE)
Concentrated solar power (CSP) systems turn solar radiation into a high-temperature energy source for the production of electricity or heat, and for inducing chemical reactions. These clean energy technologies are especially suitable for applications in countries within the "solar belt", where the level of direct solar radiation is very high. The first commercial installations were put into operation in California in the mid-1980s, producing 354 megawatts at the lowest cost of solar energy ever achieved. The many types of systems being developed (including linear parabolic collectors, tower power plants and dish/Stirling motor systems) for various markets differ in terms of concentrating system, method of conversion into energy, storage options and other variations in concept. The main focus is on multiple-megawatt systems which are suitable for the market connected to the grid, and on the other major technology – photovoltaics – which is more suitable for smaller applications that are not connected to the grid. Chemical solar systems use concentrated solar radiation to induce chemical reactions for the production of fuels and chemical products. Other uses include environmental technologies in areas such as decontamination of chemical waste and medium-term to long-term energy storage.