FERC, DOE and SolarReserve Weigh in on Issues Affecting the Concentrating Solar Power Industry

With only a few weeks remaining until IntertechPira’s 3rd annual Concentrating Solar Thermal Power conference, FERC, DOE and SolarReserve representatives provided insights into their presentations and the future of the concentrated solar energy industry. Concentrating Solar Thermal Power 2011 will be held February 23-25 at the FireSky Resort in Scottsdale, AZ, US and will address opportunities and challenges for large scale solar electric generation through concentrated solar power thermal (CST) technologies.

Frank “Tex” Wilkins, CSP Team Leader, US Department of Energy (DOE) commented on the state of the industry and the DOE’s role in enabling CSP. The goal of DOE’s $50 million in new funding for solar testing and demonstration “project will be to demonstrate low-cost technology at a scale that convinces the financial community that the technology is bankable,” said Wilkins. “The demonstrations will be designed to lower the technical and economic risk to a point where the financial community would be willing to make loans to commercial projects the use newer technology.The demonstrations will also help industry bridge the R&D ‘valley of death,’ which keeps most new technology from being commercialized.”

John Wellinghoff, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) says challenges facing the smart grid technology “are primarily ensuring that all sectors are adequately represented and given opportunity for participation in the development of the smart grid regulations and market initiatives. Because smart grid is heavily communications and computer driven, it is necessary to incorporate many diverse skill sets into the regulatory process that do not normally play such a prominent role in regulation and market structure development. Making certain that sufficient consensus has been reached in the NIST standards development process will be crucial to enacting rules that truly serve to advance smart grid technologies. This is perhaps our biggest challenge.”

Finally, SolarReserve Chief Technical Officer Bill Gould discusses his company’s projects on the horizon including the Crescent Dunes Project, a 100 MWe plant with NVEnergy, and the Rice Project, a 150 MWe plant for PG&E. “SolarReserve has a deep pipeline of potential projects following behind these lead projects,” said Gould. SolarReserve has more than “120,000 acres in this country which are in earlier permitting stages. We are pursuing additional opportunities in Spain, South Africa, China and several other countries.”

Concentrating Solar Thermal Power 2011 is chaired by Charlie Ricker senior vice president of Business Development for Brightsource Energy and David Kearney president of Kearney & Associates. The keynote panel presentation will be delivered by Uwe Schmidt, CEO, SOLAR TRUST OF AMERICA, Kevin Smith, Chief Executive Officer, SOLARRESERVE, Albert Fong, Managing Director, ALBIASA CORPORATION and Thomas Doyle, President & CEO, NRG SOLAR. Other key speakers include Kevin Sara, Founder and Managing Director, NUR ENERGIE, Keith Casey, VP Markets and Infrastructure Development, CALIFORNIA ISO, Richard Leblanc, CEO, SKYFUEL, Asif Ansari, CEO and Founder, SUNTROUGH ENERGY, Jose Martin, CEO, SENER and many others.

IntertechPira provides events, market research, publications, strategic and technical consulting to niche, emerging and high growth industries. Market coverage includes lighting and displays, alternative energy, home and personal care, industrial biotechnology, performance materials and chemicals. IntertechPira is a division of Pira International.