Concentrating Solar Power installations in the United States are forecast to set new records in 2013, with total capacity increasing by a staggering 120%, to 1889.66MW.
As five new solar thermal projects, with a combined capacity of 1312 MW, approach their commissioning phase, the industry is anxious to hear how the new generation of Concentrated Solar Power plants perform in practice and how costs have declined.
In recent years, technology in the field has continued to be dominated by parabolic trough, which has profited from development and growth in the US and other established CSP markets. Recent figures published on the CSP Today Global Tracker (http://social.csptoday.com/tracker/projects) illustrate this point, with a total of 2701MW of parabolic trough technologies in operation worldwide, compared to 96MW of power tower plants operating globally.
However, a recent comparison by CSP Today tells a different story. The market share of parabolic trough has decreased in recent years with a total of 1597MW under construction globally, compared to the increasing capacity of Solar Tower and Fresnel technologies that currently have 556MW and 172MW under construction respectively.
Experts have pointed to the significance of the increasing capacity of Power Tower and Fresnel technologies, arguing that effectively implementing projects will allow for further cost reductions and a better understanding of the performance criteria of these technologies as projects come online.
However, the desired cost reductions needed in CSP are still a long way off. The government backed SunShot Initiative R&D programme in the US, aims to reduce the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) generated from CSP to 6 cents/kWh or less, without any subsidies, by the year 2020. Yet in order to achieve this goal both continued innovation, as well as the demonstration of cost reductions and improved performance in operational plants, will be vital for CSP to reach the targeted 6 cents/kWh.
In order to examine the future impact that the commissioning of plants will have on the industry in the United States, as well as the latest innovations in CSP, new details have been released for CSP Today USA 2013, taking place on 26-27 June in Las Vegas. BrightSource Energy and SolarReserve will participate in the keynote panel, sharing their experiences in the commissioning of their Ivanpah and Crescent Dunes projects, and examine their impact on CSP cost reductions for years to come.
Furthermore, to demonstrate the progress made in the SunShot Initiative and to share the very latest innovations in CSP, leading companies, universities and research institutions will host exclusive R&D focused roundtables. Confirmed participants include experts from NREL, Wilson Solarpower, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Terrafore and the University of Arizona.
The event is set to take place on 26-27 June in Las Vegas, with over 500 stakeholders in attendance.