A special lighting effect was required to take this picture at DLR's QUARZ Centre in Cologne. Light is reflected from the mirrored surfaces of a test stand for solar receiver tubes. These tubes are a key component in the solar collectors used in parabolic trough power plants. Their mirrors concentrate solar irradiation in a tube – the receiver tube – mounted onto the focal line, in order to generate high temperatures. The power plant uses these high temperatures to generate electricity by means of a turbine. The receiver tubes of a typical power plant with an electrical output of 50 megawatts in southern Spain have a total length of around 90 kilometres. The more effectively they absorb the sunlight and convert it into heat, the higher the yield of the solar power plant. Researchers at the DLR Institute of Solar Research have developed innovative testing methods for the mirrors and receivers used in solar power plants. In the OptiRec test stand at the QUARZ Centre, receiver tubes four metres long are irradiated in their entirety with artificial sunlight. This makes it possible to precisely determine and compare their quality and optical performance. This is crucial information for securing investments in solar power plants. The testing methods developed by DLR together with industrial companies have been recognised and published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) as an international standard.