Market for Concentrated Solar Power Will More Than Double by 2020

At the moment, the market for concentrated solar power (CSP) systems is paused – not stopped. The sector has been marked by volatility since the technology began to experience a revival in 2004, and that up-and-down movement is likely to persist through the remainder of the decade as the price of rival photovoltaic modules continues its dramatic decline.

According to a recent report from Pike Research, worldwide annual revenue for CSP systems will increase dramatically, from $2.1 billion in 2012 to $5.1 billion in 2013, before dropping again in 2014 and beginning a gradual recovery. By 2020, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts, revenue will reach $4.8 billion.

Under a more favorable forecast scenario, revenue could surpass $8.6 billion in 2020.

“Solar energy photovoltaic is not only more attractively priced at the moment than CSP technology, but it also has an established track record that makes it more appealing to investors,” says senior analyst Peter Asmus. “Yet, CSP may overcome these disadvantages by reducing costs as a result of larger scale and new technology models. The most promising opportunity in the near term is to link CSP with thermal energy storage, thereby increasing the value of clean electricity in a cost-effective way that solar PV cannot replicate.”

Specifically, CSP providers have begun devising hybridized power plants that combine concentrated solar with fossil fuel generation, a model called Integrated Solar Combined Cycle (ISCC). At the same time, utility-scale energy storage capabilities are enabling expanded electricity production by dispatching stored heat in the evening hours. Overall growth in the CSP market depends on a range of factors including project bankability/financing, policy issues, cost reductions in technology, cost competitiveness with PV, and expanded electricity transmission capacity.

Pike Research’s report, “Concentrated Solar Power”, provides an in-depth analysis of technology issues and policy trends driving CSP adoption in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, India, and China. The study analyzes the perceived threat from solar PV and assesses the key challenges and opportunities presented by regional policies, capital environments, utility scale demand, and solar resources well suited for CSP. Market forecasts extend through 2020 and include projections for installed capacity and revenue by region.