How to Convert a Coal Power Plant to Solar Thermal

How to Convert a Coal Power Plant to Solar Thermal


As climate change continues to threaten our planet, many coal power plants are looking to transition to renewable energy sources like solar thermal. Converting an existing coal plant to solar thermal is a complex process, but can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this guide, I will provide an overview of solar thermal technology, the steps involved in repurposing a coal plant, potential challenges, and the costs and benefits of conversion. With careful planning and execution, coal plants can successfully transform into clean energy producers.

Overview of Solar Thermal Technology

Solar thermal power generates electricity by concentrating sunlight to heat a fluid and produce steam to drive a turbine. There are two main types of solar thermal technology:

Parabolic Trough Systems

Power Tower Systems

Solar thermal technology allows for the storage of heat, providing power even when the sun isn't shining. This gives solar thermal an advantage over solar PV in providing reliable, renewable electricity.

Steps for Converting a Coal Power Plant

Converting an existing coal plant to solar thermal is a complex, multi-year process, but can allow power producers to repurpose infrastructure instead of decommissioning. Here are the key steps involved:

Feasibility Studies

Permitting and Regulatory Approval

Decommissioning Coal Equipment

Integration of Solar Equipment

Testing and Commissioning

Ongoing Operation and Maintenance

Challenges of Converting Coal Power Plants

Converting coal plants brings unique challenges including:

Careful planning and engineering is needed to address these challenges.

Costs and Benefits of Conversion

Converting a coal plant to solar thermal requires extensive investment, but can pay off in the long run:



Converting coal plants is one option to repurpose fossil fuel infrastructure for renewable energy. With proper planning, these facilities can be transformed into clean power producers.


Converting coal power plants to solar thermal technology is a complex but achievable process. With in-depth feasibility studies, careful system integration, and substantial investment, coal generators can successfully transition to emissions-free solar thermal energy. Repurposing existing plants in this way allows power providers to leverage existing infrastructure while still decarbonizing our electricity system. Though there are challenges, with the right approach, coal facilities can transform into vital sources of renewable power.