Recently, a brand new "Solar Parabolic Trough" power plant was officially opened near Tucson, Arizona. The plant consists of six rows of parabolic mirrors that track the sun as it moves across the sky. The mirrors concentrate the sunlight on steel tubes coated with an absorption material to keep the heat from dissipating. Mineral oil flowing inside the tubes is heated to about 600 degrees Fahrenheit. The hot oil then is circulated through a heat exchanger, where it heats a second fluid that vaporizes to produce steam to spin an electric turbine. The plant actually became operational in December 2005 and provides power for 200 households. It was built by Solargenix, a solar energy development company based in North Carolina.
:: Via: The Energy Blog.
Photo credit: Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star