I have been consistently writing that Solar PV has leapfrogged far ahead of Solar Thermal Technology in the last couple of years.The entry of the low cost Chinese with huge scale and the fall in polysilicon costs have suddenly made the future survival of Solar Thermal Technology suspect.The Solar Thermal Advantages of energy storage is also overrated because it is cheaper to add energy storage to Solar PV as the following article shows.Note Solar PV has many other advantages of Solar Thermal anyway.The Rapidly Declining Costs of Solar PV in fact pose a massive threat to all other forms of Solar Technology including Thin Film which has recently seen a number of players gone bankrupt.The recent conversion of Solar Thermal Plants by Tessera,the losses being made by Solar Millenium due to delays are further evidence of the decline and possible obsolescence of Solar Thermal Technology.
1. Isn’t concentrating solar power cheaper?
No. Five years ago, the two technologies were relatively comparable, but in 2011 there’s no doubt that distributed solar PV is cheaper than concentrating solar power.
2. Doesn’t storage make concentrating solar better for the grid?
No. There are two reasons that storage does not give concentrating solar an edge over solar PV.
First, solar PV with battery storage has a lower levelized cost than concentrating solar with storage, given similar storage capacity.
Second, longer-term storage does not necessarily make concentrating solar more beneficial or economic
3. Can’t we get more solar power faster with concentrating solar?
No. Concentrating solar power capacity has scarcely reached 1 gigawatt, total, ever. Germany installed nearly 3 gigawatts of distributed solar PV in 2009 alone, over 80 percent of it on rooftops.
4. Is there any reason to do concentrating solar power?
Yes, if distributed. Concentrating solar thermal power can be used to co-generate electricity and heat for industrial use or air conditioning. However, for this to be practical, concentrating solar power plants need to be on-site or very close to their thermal energy users.