Lux Research Report Predicts Growth of Concentrating Solar Power Technology in 2011

The recent Lux Research report titled “Solar Thermal Update: The Renaissance of Concentrating Solar Power” points out that despite cheap solar PV prices and dawdling ecological and financial fears, concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies will grow in gigawatt level in 2011 and predicts a healthy future growth.

Nevertheless, the report cautions that in order to carve out a share in the growing CSP market the solar developers and the utility companies need to have a clear understanding about the financial and functional factors that drive the three important CSP technologies such as Stirling thermal systems, power tower and parabolic trough and the solar photovoltaic technology.

The report analyzes the practical usage of each technology in a suppositional 100 MW power plant and equates their cost of electricity production, which includes initial investment and return on investment as important factors for adopting the technology.

On investment factors Dish Stirling comes with a minimum investment with its modular technology and cheap Stirling engines. The power tower systems comes next with relatively cheaper costs and the parabolic trough plants occupies the top slot with costliest mirror options and the PV systems occupy the middle slot due to high cost of the modules.

In performance factors, power tower occupies the top slot with its dual-axis tracking technology and proficient turbine cycle, though parabolic trough has the peak efficiency it comes second in performance. In performance rating, both Solar PV and Dish fall behind the other two.

Dish Stirling also scores in levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), which is measured as $/kWh due to its low investment cost and adequate performance and scores above PV installations. But the report indicates that power tower technology closely follows Dish Stirling and PV and will remain a competitor for the top spot in the coming years. The report quotes the parabolic trough systems as the costliest among the concentrated solar energy plants due to high cost of investment and expensive functional and repair costs.