The new organization is dedicated to educating U.S. regulators, utilities and grid operators about the unique benefits of concentrating solar power (CSP) and of thermal energy storage as a foundational resource for a reliable, low-carbon electricity mix and a driver of economic growth.
“We believe CSP, with the ability to dispatch electricity when it is needed, is critical in meeting the energy challenges facing the United States and the world.”
“Concentrating solar power technology is the only renewable resource that is capable of harnessing the world’s most abundant fuel source – the sun – to produce reliable, cost-effective, and dispatchable electricity,” said Tex Wilkins, Executive Director of the CSP Alliance. “We believe CSP, with the ability to dispatch electricity when it is needed, is critical in meeting the energy challenges facing the United States and the world.”
The Alliance’s mission is to promote the increased acceptance, adoption and implementation of concentrating solar power plants in the United States. The Alliance will also promote policies to encourage and advance CSP technology deployment.
CSP technologies use mirrors to concentrate the thermal energy of the sun to drive a conventional steam turbine. The first commercial CSP plants were built in California in the mid-1980’s and are operating today with a higher output than when they were new.
There are currently over 500 MW of CSP plants operating in the U.S and more than 1,300 megawatts of CSP plants under construction nationally, with many gigawatts more under development. Worldwide, more than one gigawatt of CSP is in operation. The International Energy Agency estimates that CSP projects now in development or under construction in more than a dozen countries (including China, India, Morocco, Spain and the United States) total 15 gigawatts.
Utilities and grid operators worldwide value CSP plants because of the technology’s ability to:
Produce electricity at peak demand when it is needed most during the late afternoon or early summer evening hours or winter mornings
Include cost-effective, efficient thermal energy storage to provide a flexible and dispatchable clean energy source, day or night
Incorporate into fossil fuel power plants as “hybrids” for cleaner baseload power
There are different designs for steam-producing CSP technology that incorporate storage. These include power towers, parabolic troughs and linear reflectors, each based on proven engineering principles.
CSP plants have also shown to be great creators of economic benefits in the regions where they are built as well as across the United States. A recent study of the Spanish CSP industry by Deloitte found that compared to other power generation sources, CSP plants are a strong generator of local jobs during construction, operation, and maintenance. The supply chain feeding CSP plants creates jobs nationwide as well, due largely to the plants’ high percentage of domestically-sourced components1. Another study commissioned by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab for the Department of Energy found that a 100 megawatt CSP plant creates more than $600 million in impact to gross state output, ten times that of a combined cycle fossil plant2 due to the local content and job creation.
The formation of the CSP Alliance builds on the momentum following the creation of the World Solar Thermal Electricity Association (STELAWorld), a consortium of industry associations representing the solar thermal electricity industry in Europe, Australia and South Africa. While independent of STELAWorld, the CSP Alliance will work closely with these associations to further advance the solar thermal industry in the U.S. and abroad.
CSP is poised to grow worldwide, creating clean power and jobs as it expands to meet the world’s energy needs. Current CSP projects are demonstrating the technology’s viability and a recent study from the International Energy Agency shows that with sufficient investment and the right government policies, more than ten percent of the world’s electricity demand could be satisfied by CSP by 2050.
Abengoa (MCE: ABG) is an international company that applies innovative technology solutions for sustainable development in the energy and environment sectors, generating electricity from the sun, producing biofuels, desalinating sea water and recycling industrial waste. Abengoa is currently building 1,010 MW of solar plants all over the world and, with an additional 393 MW already operating, it is the only company in the world building and operating both trough and power tower CSP plants.
BrightSource Energy, Inc. is a leader in the design and development of concentrating solar thermal technology used to produce high-value electricity and steam for power, petroleum and process markets. BrightSource has approximately 2,400 megawatts and 90,000 acres under contracts with Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric Company, California’s two largest utilities. In addition, the company manages an approximately 90,000 acre development site portfolio in California and the U.S. Southwest that has the potential to accommodate approximately 10 GW of installed capacity. (http://www.brightsourceenergy.com)
The Torresol Energy company develops, constructs, operates and maintains large concentrated solar power plants in southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and the southwest of the United States. Torresol’s Gemasolar plant in Seville, Spain is the first commercial scale plant in the world to apply central tower receiver and molten salt heat storage technology.