Micro-CSP Systems

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Micro-CSP systems are small-scale concentrated solar power (CSP) systems that generate electricity and/or heat from sunlight. These systems typically use parabolic trough or dish collectors to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver, which heats a working fluid to generate electricity or provide heat for various applications.

Impact on climate action

Micro-CSP Systems in Solar Thermal amplify climate action by providing scalable, efficient solar energy solutions. By harnessing sunlight to generate heat, these systems produce clean, renewable energy for various applications, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, mitigating carbon emissions, and accelerating the transition to a sustainable energy future.


  • Concentrating Sunlight: Micro-CSP systems use mirrors or lenses to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver, increasing the intensity of solar radiation and generating high temperatures.
  • Solar Collectors: Parabolic trough or dish collectors are commonly used in micro-CSP systems. These collectors track the sun and focus sunlight onto a receiver located at the focal point.
  • Heat Transfer Fluids: Heat transfer fluids, such as thermal oil or molten salt, are used to transfer the heat generated by the receiver to a power generation system or industrial process.
  • Power Generation: Micro-CSP systems can generate electricity using various technologies, such as steam turbines, organic Rankine cycle (ORC) engines, or Stirling engines.
  • Thermal Energy Storage: Some micro-CSP systems incorporate thermal energy storage to store excess heat for later use, providing a more consistent and reliable energy supply.

TRL : 6-7

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Modular and Scalable Designs: Micro-CSP systems are designed to be modular and scalable, allowing for easy installation and expansion to meet varying energy needs.
  • Low-Cost Materials and Manufacturing: Innovations in materials and manufacturing processes are reducing the cost of micro-CSP systems, making them more affordable for residential, commercial, and industrial applications.
  • Hybrid Micro-CSP Systems: Combining micro-CSP with photovoltaic (PV) technology can create hybrid systems that generate both electricity and heat, offering greater flexibility and efficiency.
  • Advanced Control Systems: Smart control systems and AI algorithms can optimize the operation of micro-CSP systems, maximizing energy production and ensuring efficient heat transfer.

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Sopogy:
    • Technology Enhancement: Sopogy specializes in Micro-Concentrated Solar Power (Micro-CSP) systems, which utilize parabolic trough collectors to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver tube containing a heat transfer fluid. This fluid is then used to generate steam, which drives a turbine to produce electricity or provides thermal energy for various industrial processes.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Sopogy stands out for its focus on compact and scalable CSP systems suitable for distributed energy generation and industrial applications. Their Micro-CSP technology offers advantages such as high efficiency, modularity, and low water usage, making it suitable for a wide range of environments and end-uses.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Sopogy serves commercial, industrial, and utility customers seeking renewable energy solutions for electricity generation, process heating, and cooling applications. Their Micro-CSP systems are deployed in industries such as manufacturing, food processing, desalination, and district heating, providing reliable and cost-effective solar thermal energy.
  • Aora Solar:
    • Technology Enhancement: Aora Solar specializes in hybrid solar power systems that integrate concentrated solar thermal technology with conventional power generation technologies. Their systems utilize solar concentrators to focus sunlight onto a receiver, where a heat transfer fluid is heated to generate steam for electricity production or thermal energy storage.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Aora Solar stands out for its hybrid approach to solar power generation, combining solar thermal technology with backup fossil fuel or biomass generators for continuous and reliable energy supply. Their systems are designed to operate in both grid-connected and off-grid settings, offering flexibility and resilience to varying energy demands and environmental conditions.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Aora Solar serves communities, remote locations, and industries seeking decentralized and resilient energy solutions. Their hybrid solar power systems are deployed in rural electrification projects, microgrids, and industrial facilities, providing reliable and sustainable energy access while reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Sunvapor:
    • Technology Enhancement: Sunvapor specializes in solar steam generation systems for industrial process heating and power generation applications. Their technology utilizes parabolic trough collectors to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver tube, heating a heat transfer fluid to produce high-temperature steam for industrial processes or electricity generation.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Sunvapor stands out for its focus on industrial process heat applications, offering cost-effective and sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel-based heating systems. Their solar steam generation systems are designed to integrate seamlessly with existing industrial infrastructure, providing clean and reliable heat for various manufacturing processes.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Sunvapor serves industries such as food and beverage, chemical, pharmaceutical, and pulp and paper, where process heating accounts for a significant portion of energy consumption. Their solar steam generation systems help industrial customers reduce carbon emissions, energy costs, and reliance on fossil fuels, contributing to sustainability goals and operational efficiency.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL):
    • Research Focus: NREL is at the forefront of research on Micro-CSP Systems, focusing on developing compact and efficient concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies suitable for small-scale applications and distributed energy generation.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the design, optimization, and demonstration of innovative CSP collectors, receivers, and thermal energy storage systems tailored for micro-scale installations. They also explore novel heat transfer fluids, optical materials, and system configurations to improve performance, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in remote power generation, off-grid communities, and industrial process heat. By developing Micro-CSP systems, NREL’s research enables reliable and dispatchable renewable energy solutions for a wide range of applications, including water desalination, agricultural processing, and rural electrification.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT conducts pioneering research on Micro-CSP Systems, leveraging its expertise in thermal sciences, materials engineering, and renewable energy technologies to develop novel approaches for harnessing concentrated solar radiation at the micro-scale.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of compact and lightweight CSP collectors, heliostats, and solar tracking systems suitable for rooftop installations, urban environments, and space-constrained areas. They also explore innovative receiver designs, heat exchangers, and thermal energy storage concepts to maximize energy capture, conversion efficiency, and system integration flexibility.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in building-integrated solar heating, process steam generation, and microgrid integration. By advancing Micro-CSP technology, MIT’s research contributes to reducing fossil fuel consumption, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and enhancing energy security in urban and industrial settings.
  • Arizona State University:
    • Research Focus: Arizona State University is engaged in innovative research on Micro-CSP Systems, leveraging its expertise in solar energy engineering, system optimization, and sustainable development to address the challenges of decentralized and distributed CSP deployment.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves developing modular and scalable Micro-CSP systems that can be easily deployed in remote areas, rural communities, and developing regions with limited access to grid infrastructure. They also investigate hybrid CSP-PV systems, integrated solar thermal-electric solutions, and off-grid microgrids to meet diverse energy needs and environmental constraints.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in rural electrification, agricultural processing, and community development projects. By harnessing solar thermal energy at the micro-scale, ASU’s research supports poverty alleviation, climate resilience, and sustainable economic growth in underserved regions, while reducing reliance on fossil fuels and mitigating environmental impacts.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Micro-CSP systems are being implemented in various applications around the world, including remote power generation, industrial process heat, and solar cooling. For example, Sopogy has deployed its MicroCSP systems in various countries for applications such as desalination and food processing.