2013: An important year for Concentrating Solar Power in the United States

Between now and early 2014 the total generation capacity of concentrated solar power in the United States will increase by more than 120%.

Currently, 571.16MW of Concentrated Solar Power capacity has been commissioned in the United States, but with five large-scale projects scheduled for completion in 2013-14 this capacity is set to increase by 120%, a further 1318.5MW, making the United States a world leader in operational CSP plants.

This increase in operational capacity is set to make 2013 a momentous year for the CSP industry in this region, with many experts pointing to the long-term impact that the commissioning of new plants will have on the future project pipeline, that currently stands at just over 1.5GW.

The five CSP plants in question are Abengoa’s Solana and Mojave projects, BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System and finally the Crescent Dunes and Genesis plants being developed by SolarReserve and NextEra Energy Resources respectively.

In a recent interview with CSP Today, Tex Wilkins the Executive Director of the Concentrating Solar Power Alliance said that these five plants will “give the financial community increased confidence that the technology works, making it easier for future projects to be financed”.


Abengoa’s Solana Concentrating Solar Power.

Abengoa’s Mojave Concentrating Solar Power.


Furthermore, the roadblocks that each developer has overcome to bring these projects to completion, including closing finance, permitting and establishing a supply chain of components, will inevitably be mitigated in the future as CSP continues its learning curve.






BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah


When asked about the value that CSP can offer the US energy mix, Wilkins added that “CSP projects with thermal storage, such as Solana and Crescent Dunes, will add flexibility to an electric grid that is becoming increasingly hard to operate as variable power from solar PV and wind increases”. However, currently policy in the US fails to highlight the value of CSP with storage.

SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes Concentrating Solar Power.

Wilkins believes that policy should be revised to highlight both the costs and benefits of solar power, or net system cost. He added that currently the focus is on the “less inclusive levelized cost of energy which addresses only one aspect of system cost”, that ultimately fails to recognize the role storage can play to help overcome grid intermittency.



NextEra Energy Resources Genesis Concentrating Solar Power Plant.

In order to examine the future impact that the commissioning of plants will have on the industry in the United States, CSP Today have launched CSP Today USA 2013, taking place on 26-27 June in Las Vegas. BrightSource Energy and SolarReserve will participate on the keynote panel to evaluate the impact that the Ivanpah and Crescent Dunes plants will have on financing, regulation and the future project pipeline.

Also the CSP Alliance will be joined by leading utilities and regulators in the US to discuss the steps CSP must take to communicate its competitive value to win a greater stake in the US energy mix for years to come.

The event is set to take place on 26-27 June in Las Vegas, with over 500 delegates in attendance. For more details about the summit go to the website: