Instead of directly turning sunlight into electricity, as solar photovoltaic cells do, concentrated solar power systems, which focus a large area of sunlight onto a small area, can be an efficient means for harnessing some of the thermal energy for use either directly, as steam, or indirectly, by converting it into electricity. There are many types of concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies, with perhaps the most recognizable form being that of the ‘solar power tower‘ that features hundreds of heliostats (dual-axis tracking reflectors) that direct sunlight onto a thermal receiver on top of the tower, and which gets the brunt of the complaints from solar naysayers for the toll on birds. However, another CSP technology, parabolic trough systems, focuses the sunlight on a receiver much closer than a solar tower, heating up a tube within the trough to harvest the thermal energy, which avoids the bird-killing issue.
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