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Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant in Nevada. SolarReserve

The South Australian state government has approved the construction of a 150-megawatt solar thermal power plant.

The AU $650 million (US $510 million) structure will be built in Port Augusta and is slated for completion by 2020. It will be the largest such facility in the world once built.

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The Solucar PS10 solar power tower. afloresm via Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

The massive expansion of solar panels on rooftops and solar farms across the world has captured the headlines, but the other established way of generating electricity from sunlight—concentrated solar power (CSP), or solar tower power—is also making great strides.

For a long time, using mirrors to concentrate the sun's rays to heat molten salt and produce superheated steam to drive a generator's turbines was thought to be a more promising technology than photovoltaic panels (PV), because it was originally cheaper.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

World's biggest artificial Sun. Photo credit: DLR

The world's largest artificial sun is now shining at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in the town of Jülich. On Wednesday, German scientists switched on project "Synlight" to test ways to make carbon-free fuel.

The honeycomb-like setup involves 149 individually adjustable xenon short-arc lamps that can produce about 10,000 times the intensity of the natural solar radiation on Earth's surface. To illustrate how powerful the lamps are, a single one can light a projector for a large cinema.

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