The parabolic trough technology is the oldest CSP technology, dating back to the 1900s, when the first parabolic trough-shaped collectors used solar irradiation for steam generation.
In the late 1970s, research and development flourished in the field of solar thermal technologies, largely inspired by these early parabolic trough collector designs. In the late 1980s, the commercial exploitation of all CSP technologies, and parabolic trough technologies in particular, flourished. Since then, there has been a steady improvement in the performance of various CSP pilot plants in a number of industrialized countries (i.e., the United States, Japan, Spain and Italy). Luz International Limited (“Luz”) made the most significant breakthroughs in parabolic trough technology with its SEGS plants, built between 1984 and 1991.
These plants were the first parabolic trough plants to be developed, built, financed and operated on a commercial basis. The SEGS plants, located in the Mojave Desert of California, are still successfully running and delivering 354 MW of power to the Southern California grid. These plants remain today the main reference in parabolic trough technology.