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Enough sunlight falls on the Earth every minute to meet the world's energy demands for an entire year. Engineers at a solar plant in Spain explain how they can harness this energy. Hundreds of mirrors are used to reflect sunlight to a receiver on a central tower. Here water is heated to create steam, which drives a turbine and generates electricity. We also learn about a second system using parabolic reflectors, and about new ways to store heat to increase the useful output from the power plant.
First broadcast:
11 June 2009

Classroom Ideas

Could be used to demonstrate how electricity is generated using solar power. The class could discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using solar power compared to fossil-fuels. This should include cost considerations and the impact on the environment. Students could also carry out research to identify what proportion of our current energy supply is supplied by solar power and whether this is planned to change in the future.