Negative environmental impact of fossil fuel consumption highlight the role of renewable energy sources and give them a unique opportunity to grow and improve. Among renewable energy sources solar energy attract more attention and many studies have focused on using solar energy for electricity generation. Here, in this study, solar energy technologies are reviewed to find out the best option for electricity generation. Using solar energy to generate electricity can be done either directly and indirectly. In the direct method, PV modules are utilized to convert solar irradiation into electricity. In the indirect method, thermal energy is harnessed employing concentrated solar power (CSP) plants such as Linear Fresnel collectors and parabolic trough collectors. In this paper, solar thermal technologies including soar trough collectors, linear Fresnel collectors, central tower systems, and solar parabolic dishes are comprehensively reviewed and barriers and opportunities are discussed. In addition, a comparison is made between solar thermal power plants and PV power generation plants. Based on published studies, PV‐based systems are more suitable for small‐scale power generation. They are also capable of generating more electricity in a specific area in comparison with CSP‐based systems. However, based on economic considerations, CSP plants are better in economic return.
More information: Energy Sci Eng. 2018;6:340–361, https://doi.org/10.1002/ese3.239