Birth of solar steam power

Birth of solar steam power

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Illustration of a solar powered motor installed at Cawston Ostrich Farm, South Pasadena, California in 1901. It consisted of a conical dish lined with 1700 mirrors which concentrated sunlight on to a steel tube placed in the centre of the dish, thus heating the 100 gallons of water it contained. The steam produced drove an engine connected to an electrical power generator and was capable of pumping about 1400 hundred gallons of water a minute. The dish, driven by clockwork, followed the movement of the sun. Cawston Ostrich Farm was the first enterprise in the United States to use a solar powered motor for commercial purposes. It was used to irrigate the arid soil of Southern California. This is the forerunner of Concentrated Solar Power systems (CSP) using self-moving mirrors (heliostats) to follow the sun and which concentrate sunlight onto a steam producing boiler.

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Keywords: 1901, california, concentrated solar power, csp, early commercial use of solar energy, green energy, heliostat, history of science, history of technology, irrigation, selfmoving mirrors, solar power, solar-powered motor, south pasadena

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