Reviving the Concentrating Solar Power Market in the US

The CSP Today USA 2012 due to take place on 27-28 June in Las Vegas is set to be the forum where the industry will gather to set the foundations of success for the challenging months ahead.

Heidi Hafes, CSP Today, London

Challenge 1: The Concentrated Solar Thermal Power project pipeline has slowed down

There is currently 1,200 MW of Concentrated Solar Power underway in the US today making this the biggest CSP market after Spain, and a key market for  Concentrated Solar Thermal Power companies. The US solar energy market currently has the largest volume of the world’s largest  Concentrated Solar Thermal Power projects under construction, such as Ivanpah, Solana, Tonapah and the Rice Project.

The leading developers behind these projects Abengoa, BrightSource Energy, SolarReserve and their EPC teams, Bechtel, ACS Cobra, CENER will be disclosing the status of their projects as they reach completion, but more importantly their plans for the next phase of projects. Showing that there are still business opportunities for projects up for grabs in 2012 and beyond.

There is still hope for new solat thermal projects as while BrightSource Energy is still building its first solar farm, they are steaming ahead with development work for an 810 MW project called Rio Mesa, demonstrating a new pipeline is underworks for the industry to get excited about.

With this in mind CSP Today USA 2012 will not only profile the solar thermal projects, but will be discussing how the success of these projects can be utilised to break down current market barriers open the door for more projects in the US.

Challenge 2: Competition is getting tougher in the power generation market

Photovoltaic the ‘arch nemesis’ to Concentrated Solar Thermal Power has been declining costs at a much faster rate than CSP in 2011 and in the long term CSP is competing with base load generation and with new found natural gas being pumped prices have plummeted. How will  Concentrated Solar Thermal Power ever compete?

The debate has started and AREVA Solar have taken the approach to integrate CSP into gas and coal plants, thereby increasing the efficiency of existing infrastructure and bringing  Concentrated Solar Thermal Power closer to being part other US energy mix.

CSP Today USA 2012 will be looking at this in more depth and repackaging the CSP value proposition as it is more than just dispatchable power, it is a technology that creates jobs, boosts economy, enables smooth integration to the grid with PV and other variable technologies and much more. Otherwise why would governments in South Africa, Morocco and India be willing to invest when they have cheaper alternative fuels? The industry will agree on what CSP can offer today and tomorrow that will trigger the policy makers, utilities and regulators to increase their support for the growth of the US market.

Challenge 3: The industry is working as individuals rather than collectively

The  Concentrated Solar Thermal Power bubble has burst, leaving CSP companies to face a turning point on how to react to the market in 2012. At a critical time in the industry’s history a common objective and roadmap needs to be set to ensure the survival of the industry and thereby the companies it encompasses.

With leading energy companies GE, AREVA, Siemens and Chevron heavily invested in CSP it is clear that CSP is here to stay, it’s just a matter of understanding how this will take shape.

At CSP Today USA 2012, presentation after presentation has been stripped back to give the audience the power to dictate the discussions. The audience will be part of an industry led dialogue, through a live chat, voting system, roundtable discussions leaving no stone unturned, so that the industry can put words to paper and create the CSP Strategy live at the event!