Concentrating Solar Thermal Power 2011

Leading into IntertechPira’s 3rd annual Concentrating Solar Thermal Power conference, taking place February 23-25 at the FireSky Resort in Scottsdale, AZ, Jim Kenna, the Arizona State Director of the BLM; Brett Prior, Senior Analyst of Greentech Media; Keith Case, VP Markets and Infrastructure Development for the California ISO preview their presentations on the concentrated solar energy industry.

According to a recent IntertechPira ebook on Concentrating Solar Power, fourteen solar plants – 10 to be built in California with the remainder to be built in Arizona and Nevada – were ‘fast tracked’ by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Kenna whose presentation at the conference will cover energy, resources and the public interest, explains that “the ‘fast track’ projects were no different than how the BLM normally processes right-of-way applications. The only difference was that these proposals were treated as priorities, with more workers focused on the project, which meant the process could be completed more quickly.” Kenna also shares his insights into developers and ways to circumvent limited water resources in the Southwest and other arid regions.

Prior will update conference attendees on federal and state incentives affecting the solar industry, but shared his thoughts on the challenges facing the industry, including “the low cost of natural gas plants. Near term, the cost per kWh for gas plants will likely remain lower than solar energy – and solar will require the help of RPS requirements to continue growing. But, by the end of the decade, concentrated solar energy plants could eclipse natural gas as the low cost, clean option – at which point the sky will be the limit.”

Case will be participating in a panel presentation on transmission issues, including permitting, political considerations and opportunities. Case shared that the “ISO is supporting California’s renewable energy goals through a focused effort to provide timely interconnection of generation and ensure its reliable integration into the electric system. The work is focused in four areas: ongoing improvement to the generation interconnection process; proactively identifying and approving the transmission needed to support California’s RPS goals.” Case also cites “developing the operational tools to better see and predict grid conditions that enhance our ability to reliably operate the system with significant amounts of variable energy resources; and developing opportunities and incentives for resources capable of providing energy balancing services, including demand response and storage” as area’s that ISO is working on.

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 and will feature more than 25 presentations offering complete coverage of all the issues affecting the CSP industry.