Heliostats are collectors of solar energy that is used to generate electricity, store thermal energy or desalinate water among others. The technology behind this method of energy production is called Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) which, together with PV, form the two main solar energy generation methods; both fall under the broad category of renewable energy.
Renewables are inexorably growing in almost all countries and regions in the world, governed by local climatic conditions, technical maturity and policy support. In fact they provide 19.1% of global final energy consumption with the electricity sector registering the largest increase compared to previous years. CSP is seen as part of a growing trend to provide energy 100% renewable and free from greenhouse gas emissions that will also be able to marry the model of centralised electricity generation that is the norm now, with a new, distributed model that ensures uninterrupted supply and the gradual transition away from fossil-fuel based generation.
CSP has matured remarkably during the last decade with commercial projects growing in size and complexity around the world (Spain, UAE and the US are the most advanced markets) while reducing their capital and operating costs. Great strides on research fronts such as cheaper and more efficient thermal storage, integration and hybridisation with other energy sources and more efficient solar energy harvesting and processing have also been made. The Cyprus Institute is at the forefront of CSP-related research.
The global contribution of the use of renewables against climate change is also undeniable. Billions of tonnes of CO2 and other greenhouse gases have been offset from the increased penetration of renewables, which have also reinvigorated local economies, have created global industries and have ushered a wave of technological and policy innovation around the world. Most countries see renewables as the main pillar to a cleaner, more efficient future, and the vehicle towards a globalised effort to curbing the most pressing of environmental issues, climate change.