As a renewable power source, solar thermal energy is considered clean and inexpensive and can be harnessed nearly everywhere in the world. It represents a limitless source of power since solar energy comes from the sun. Unlike photovoltaic systems that directly convert sunlight into electrical energy during daylight hours, solar thermal technology can store the solar energy as heat and convert that thermal energy to electrical energy even after sunset or when the sun is blocked by clouds . Other applications of solar thermal energy include chemical conversions (i.e., solar fuels and chemicals) and thermal separations (i.e., direct injection of solar heat into distillation towers).
To enable concentrating solar energy systems research in our labs, we have built a heliostat and a solar simulator. The design of the systems and characterization regarding irradiance level and uniformity at the receiver, light collimation, and spectral distribution will be presented.
 Stutz, B., et al.(2017). âStorage of thermal solar energyâ Comptes Rendus Physique, 18: 401-414.