Thursday, December 20, 2007

Concentrated Solar Power Resurges as Scalable Solar Energy Alternative

December 12, 2007
Solar Concentrating
Cambridge, MA, 11 December 2007

Dormant since the early 1990s, Concentrated Solar Power is undergoing a renaissance in the solar-rich areas of the world including Spain and the Southwestern US, according to a new study from Emerging Energy Research, a leading research and advisory firm analyzing clean and renewable energy markets. According to EER, solar CSP is the fastest growing utility-scale renewable energy alternative after wind power, with up to $20 billion expected to be invested in solar CSP over the next five years.

"With natural gas prices tripling and current volatility expected to continue, CSP is well-positioned to compete against other electricity generation technologies in the near-to-medium term," says EER Senior Analyst Reese Tisdale. "In countries such as the US and Spain with higher solar resources, land availability, and sufficient government support to kick-start the industry, utility-scale solar CSP technology has the potential to become an integral part of the generation mix."

"With natural gas prices tripling and current volatility expected to continue, CSP is well-positioned to compete against other electricity generation technologies in the near-to-medium term," says EER Senior Analyst Reese Tisdale. "In countries such as the US and Spain with higher solar resources, land availability, and sufficient government support to kick-start the industry, utility-scale solar CSP technology has the potential to become an integral part of the generation mix."

Spain and the US are currently the two epicenters for the global CSP industry: CSP installations in these two countries are expected to surpass a combined 7,500 MW by 2020, according to EER's study. Spain's favorable feed-in tariffs provide the most stable regulatory environment in the short-term creating a slow but steady growth path for CSP alongside its history of wind power development, according to EER.

Outside Spain and the US, Italy, France, Portugal, and Greece are on the cusp of breaking through with CSP developments, as well as parts of the Middle East and North Africa. The southern European countries are looking at improved regulatory incentives to drive 3,200 MW of capacity installation by 2020.

"2007 has been a pivotal year for solar CSP development as developers Acciona Solar Power and Abengoa Solar have inaugurated 65 MW of parabolic trough and 11 MW of central receiver technologies, respectively," says Tisdale. With a 17-year history of proven parabolic trough technology and almost 6 GW in the announced project pipeline over the next five years, all indications are that solar CSP is moving to the forefront of renewable energy technologies.

Parabolic trough technology's decades of proven operation have made it the most credible of the leading solar CSP technologies, but the technology's head start will soon begin to diminish as central receiver and other technologies are realized at a commercial scale, according to EER's study. By 2010, the market will have a solid view of the potential offered by Central Receiver, Dish Engine, and Linear Fresnel technologies. "Abengoa has made a major step by installing its 11 MW central receiver project, PS10, outside of Seville," says Tisdale. "This project currently represents the first legitimate challenge to parabolic trough technology."

New players, including traditional wind developers, vying for leadership in the CSP market

The solar CSP industry has only just begun its resurgence, and as a result there has been a proliferation of new entrants up and down the value chain, according to EER's study, from technology innovators looking to change the economics of CSP to investors and IPPs looking to gain first-mover advantages by tying up sites.

At one end of the project development spectrum is a leading group of independent technology promoters - including Solel, Solar Millennium, Abengoa Solar, Ausra, BrightSource Energy, SkyFuel, and Stirling Energy Systems - which are looking to leverage their specialized technology capabilities to gain a competitive advantage. On the opposite end of the development value chain are those IPPs and utilities that have already built or acquired GW portfolios of renewable power generation assets and that are now investing in CSP, according to EER.

"It is no surprise that the largest owners of wind power plant globally are also emerging as significant players in CSP," says Tisdale. These players, led by Iberdrola, FPL Energy, Acciona, and EDP are looking to add CSP projects to their mounting wind portfolios as a means to diversity other utility scale technologies. FPL Energy, notes Tisdale, is currently the leading IPP investor in CSP with its ownership of seven solar plants in California built in the late 1980s.

"As the solar CSP industry evolves we can expect significant movement in both directions along the project value chain," says Tisdale. Technology promoters will fill out project execution capabilities, and utilities and IPPs will build upstream project pipelines and technology capabilities.

ABOUT THE STUDY

EER's Global CSP market study - Global Concentrated Solar Power Markets and Strategies, 2007-2020 - was released in December 2007. With over 200 pages of in-depth analysis, EER's study analyzes global CSP resources, market drivers, technology and cost trends, and provides competitive analysis of project developers and CSP power plant supply. This study is now available for purchase from EER. Follow this link for the Table of Contents and Order Information. For more information please contact Stephanie Aldock at 617-551-8483 or eermedia@emerging-energy.com

1 comment:

kimberly said...

Solar energy is the best natural resource that we have this time even more that fuel is too expensive. In fact i want to approach costa rica investment opportunities and look all the alternative this country can have because it climate. We must to find the way to save our planet and to use solar energy could be the first step.