Spain and USA are the 2 leading countries in Solar Thermal Technology and Installations.These 2 countries have installed 90% of the World’s CSP capacity and are home to leading companies in this technology.While USA boasts of pure play companies like Brightsource Energy,eSolar etc.,Spain’s CSP Leadership is bolstered by the likes of Energy Conglomerates like Abengoa and Acciona.Solar Thermal Technology has been getting traction recently with California approving a number of Solar Thermal plants.These utility scale plants will be built over the next 4-5 years as CSP projects have a long gestation period.Spain on the other hand has forcefully delayed the commissioning of CSP projects as it faces a massive Fiscal Deficit problem.To reduce the outgo of Renewable Subsidies,the government has arrived at an agreement with the Solar Thermal Industry to go slow in commission new plants.Abengoa has been affected by this agreement though it is a much less drastic cut on Renewables than was expected earlier.
CSP not to be competitive till 2020
Abengoa which is a leader in CSP Technology recently won a Billion Dollar Loan Guarantee from the US government to build a Solar Thermal Plant.The company thinks that CSP won’t reach Grid Parity till 2020 and may even take a further 10 years to achieve parity with the fossil fuel energy sources costs.This makes you wonder if CSP is a technology worth investing in since Photovoltaic Technology has already reached grid parity in some parts of the world and should reach parity in most parts by 2015.PV Technology has seen a rapid advance in technology and cost cutting over the past few years making the installation cost come down to $3.5-4/watt compared to $6-7/watt for CSP Technology.With a further 50% cost reduction expected by 2015,you would think that CSP Technology would become uncompetitive like so many Thin Film Companies.
Although the global financial crisis has pushed governments to sharply cut aid to the renewable sector, it has had little effect on costs in the solar mirror power sector compared with the photovoltaic (PV) sector, which uses solar panels to generate power.”We’ve see some reduction in prices, but nothing like in the PV sector. Costs per megawatt are between 4 and 5 million but they can reach up to six depending on the kind of power storage system you use,” Seage said.
Sector analysts put the average cost of CSP per megawatt at about 5 million euros before the global financial crisis, about six times more than for conventional gas-fired power generation.The high cost of CSP makes it unlikely to be competitive with conventional energy until the next decade, and that also depends on reasonable charges for carbon dioxide emissions.”We see CSP power becoming competitive between 2020 and 2030, depending on a country’s levels of radiation,” Seage said.