Since the solar boom of the eighties in USA, solar thermal energy has been a proven technology. The most common type of plant is the parabolic trough collector, but alternative technologies are rapidly coming to the fore, such as Linear Fresnel collector plants with flat mirrors and central tower plants with slightly curved mirrors or heliostats.
The basic principle is the same for all three plant technologies: Mirrors concentrate the incident solar radiation onto a receiver where it is converted into heat that is used to produce steam to drive a steam turbine. Heat storage systems like molten salt tanks provide for power supply even during unfavorable weather conditions or at night. They significantly increase the number of full-load operation hours with optimal steam turbine efficiency.