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Peltier elements are used to use electricity create temperature gradients for example for the purpose of cooling electronics (and then in a secondary step remove the heat from the hot side).

However if I am correctly informed could be used in the opposite direction - utilizing a large temperature gradient to create a current.

So how about concentrating solar radiation to a small area (using lenses or mirrors) creating a very hot surface to drive a current. Could that be practically useful or would it be too inefficient?

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Certainly there are devices that generate current from being heated.

Now the question is what's the current status on using solar power to run a thermoelectric generator. As you might know from your initial searches concentrated solar power is used to concentrate light to heat a small area which drives a heat engine. Now this heat engine may be anything- from a steam driven turbine to a thermoelectric generator. So it all comes down to the efficiency of your heat engine.

From my initial research on this topic I've found that the efficiency of the concentrated solar power plant is generally higher than thermoelectric generator(TEG).

You could also consider cost effectiveness of this kind of power plant. TEG already has a lower cost of production than photovoltaic powerplant(source: wikipedia)

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes thermoelectric generator was probably the word i was looking for. Thank you! $\endgroup$ Sep 22, 2016 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ There is also the question of scale and how dependent the efficiency will be on it. But as I did not include it in the question it would be rather awkward to add it now, wouldn't it? $\endgroup$ Sep 22, 2016 at 16:41
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    $\begingroup$ The scale.. I haven't heard about large scale thermoelectric generators. I've only come across small electrionic devices using this energy. It would be fun to make calculations! :D I'll do it in my spare time $\endgroup$ Sep 22, 2016 at 18:35

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