Solar Thermal Power Generation and sea water desalination

In the past 3-4 decades, technological advances have allowed three
mainstream solar concentrating collector technologies to reach a stage which
indicates excellent potential to attain economic viability- given appropriate
conditions – in comparison with current energy supply sources. An additional
advantage is the lack of significant environmental degradation when using the
solar resources. Although a late starter, dish technology carries the best
prospects for economic success; as well as providing the highest temperatures,
the most widespread applications and the most cost-effective systems when
using large collectors, suitably designed. Parabolic trough systems have
received the greatest attention over the years, but although apparently the
simplest of the technologies, suffer from limitations in maximum efficient
temperature of operation; and economic factors are not as favorable as those
for dish systems. Central Receivers can be located, in relation to technological
and economic performance, between dishes and troughs.
An important feature of most solar thermal technologies is the ability to
utilize the waste from the heat to work conversion processes in order to effect
cogeneration, especially to drive distillation plant, using as feedstock, saline
water sources such as sea water, underground or surface water. These features
are extremely important attributes, since economic and environmental aspects
are improved and potable water is a commodity even scarcer than electric
power in many parts of the world. In the case dishes producing high
temperatures, various thermochemical processes permit solar energy to power
solar-driven chemistry and as a result can provide non-polluting or less-
polluting liquid and gaseous fuels and especially allow the long term storage of
energy. These issues are addressed in the paper.