The recent energy crisis and environmental burden are becoming increasingly urgent and drawing enormous attention to solar-energy utilization. Direct solar thermal power generation technologies, such as, thermoelectric, thermionic, magneto hydrodynamic, and alkali-metal thermoelectric methods, are among the most attractive ways to provide electric energy from solar heat. Direct solar thermal power generation has been an attractive electricity generation technology using a concentrator to gather solar radiation on a heat collector and then directly converting heat to electricity through a thermal electric conversion element. Compared with the traditional indirect solar thermal power technology utilizing a steam-turbine generator, the direct conversion technology can realize the thermal to electricity conversion without the conventional intermediate mechanical conversion process. The power system is, thus, easy to extend, stable to operate, reliable, and silent, making the method especially suitable for some small-scale distributed energy supply areas. Also, at some occasions that have high requirements on system stability, long service life, and noiselessness demand, such as military and deep-space exploration areas, direct solar thermal power generation has very attractive merit in practice. At present, the realistic conversion efficiency of direct solar thermal power technology is still not very high, mainly due to material restriction and inconvenient design. However, from the energy conversion aspect, there is no conventional intermediate mechanical conversion process in direct thermal power conversion, which therefore guarantees the enormous potential of thermal power efficiency when compared with traditional indirect solar thermal power technology .
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