Solar Thermal Technology has been facing tough competition from its sister Solar PV Technology in recent times.Despite strong government subsidies and support,numerous drawbacks have contributed to this Technology losing out to Solar PV in a number of projects in the US notably by Tessera.However a number of startups and big conglomerates continue to make huge investments in this technology.Spain and US are leaders in implementation of this Solar Technology type,however others like India and China are to building CSP plants as their energy needs continue to grow.Note like Solar PV,there are a number of different technology types for CSP like Power Tower,Parabolic Troughs and Stirling Engines.Here is a list of the most important Solar Thermal Companies (Technology Providers cum Project Developers)
1) Brightsource Energy – Solar Thermal Startup Brightsource Energy has managed to raise $420 million in multiple rounds of financing from top PE firms as well as Alstom.The latest round being $100 million as it moves to start its first plant at Ivanpah which has got the backing of the US government.The Ivanpah plant got a further boost when NRG Energy,USA’s largest renewable energy utility invested $300 million of its money into the plant.Brightsource Energy seems to have a brighter future with its unique CSP technology.Also with backers like Alstom and Bechtel,it has the heavy engineering support to construct the massive 392 MW plant.
2) Solar Millennium – The company is one of the most aggressive players in the Solar Thermal Energy Sector.The company is in the process of building CSP plants in Africa,Europe,India and USA.This German company has won several project approvals to build CSP plants in Califronia through its JV Solar Trust with Ferrostaal Inc.The company has running plants at Andasol in Spain.In 2009, Solar Millennium entered into a joint venture with Suryachakra Power Venture for joint development of solar power projects in India.The company uses parabolic tough technology and is able to provide a turnkey solution from Technology to Design to EPC.
3) Abengoa – Abengoa is one of the most well known suppliers of Solar Thermal Equipment in the world and is a proven developer of large scale Solar Plants in Spain and USA.This Spanish giant has signed a JV with India’s largest capital equipment company BHEL to manufacture components for Solar Thermal Plants..t has managed to win a large DOE grant for constructing another large Solar Thermal Plant in the USA.It has also signed a JV with Abu Dhabi promoted Masdar to build a 100 MW Shams 1 plant near Madinet Zayed in UAE
4) Areva – Another Giant Global Electrical Equipment Conglomerate which entered the Solar Thermal Energy area by acquiring a struggling CSP startup Ausra.The company is planning like the others to make a major investment of around $3 billion to build 1000 MW capacity in India.The company is the biggest nuclear equipment supplier in the world and has interests in biomass energy as well.
5) Siemens – The world’s largest green company is quite weak in the Solar Energy area.Like other conglomerates and competitor Areva,it acquired Israeli CSP company Solel Energy to make its foray into the Solar Thermal Energy sector.The company is looking to expand in India where the JNNSM has given equal importance to Solar Thermal Technology.
6) Acciona – Acciona the Spanish Renewable Energy Giant is one the most experienced in the Solar Thermal Category.The company has not been aggressively expanding in the CSP category lately.It recently backed out of bidding for the Solar Flagships program in Australia.The company built one of the large solar thermal plants in the US named Nevada Solar One in the 1980s.
7) eSolar – eSolar is one of the most exciting startups in the US Solar Technology.The company uses a unique Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Technology which utilizes small, flat mirrors which track the sun with high precision and reflect the sun’s heat to a tower-mounted receiver, which boils water to create steam. This steam powers a traditional turbine and generator to produce solar electricity.The comany has won contracts to build its CSP plants in USA,Greece and China.
8) SolarReserve is a US company which uses integrated molten salt thermal energy storage technology in conjunction with solar power towers licensed from United Technologies Corporation (UTC).The company has got approvals to build CSP plants in Arizona and California.The company has tied up with Chinese solar wafer giant GCL to build solar projects across the USA and holds 1100 MW of projects in development.
9) Schott – This German company is a provider of parabolic recievers used in CSP plants.The German Glass Maker is a big component supplier to the CSP industry but does not provide a turnkey solution.Schott is also involved in the Solar PV Technology area producing both crystalline silicon panels as well as thin film panels.