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Solar Power Question: What are power towers?

Answer: A power tower system is made up of many large, sun-tracking mirrors (heliostats) that focus sunlight on a receiver at the top of a tower. The sunlight heats up a heat transfer fluid in the receiver, which then is used to generate steam. The steam, in turn, is used in a turbine-generator to produce electricity. In early power towers like the Solar One plant in Nevada, steam was the heat transfer fluid. Current designs (including Solar Two) made use of molten nitrate salt because of its superior heat transfer and energy storage capabilities. Individual commercial plants can be small or large enough to produce anywhere from 50 to 200 megawatts of electricity.

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