CSP context Key Projects IT Power Analysis
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) is a rapidly growing industry. Commercial scale solar concentrating systems come in four basic configurations; Troughs, Central Receivers, Linear Fresnel and Dish:
A 2014 presentation on the global status of the industry was given at the University of NSW forum “Renewable Energy; the future for Australia” ( http://www.ies.unsw.edu.au/about-us/news-activities/2014/04/renewable-energy-future-australia http://www.science.unsw.edu.au/renewable-futures ). The slides and associated audio recording can also be downloaded here:
The total installed capacity around the world is growing fast:
It is however only around 3% of the capacity of photovoltaic systems that have been installed. The big competitive advantage that CSP enjoys is that it has a proven solution to energy storage in the form of two tank molten salt systems:
More than half the CSP systems installed globally, incorporate molten salt based energy storage.
Thermal Energy Storage of this nature is integrated into the CSP system. It actually increases a systems output by avoiding heat dumping at peak solar times and can result in a lower cost of energy for the electricity generated. This is very much in contrast to storage of electricity by batteries or other systems, which must add considerable cost and result in loss of energy due to inefficiencies. It is this advantage in energy storage that ensures that CSP has a good future. As time progresses other more cost effective integrated thermal storage solutions are likely to take market share. Possibly the first of these will be single tank thermocline based molten salt systems.
Some articles by this author, discuss the future potential and value of CSP:
- Renew Economy 7 February 2017 A gentle-reminder-cst-power-plants-10-hours-built-storage-available-now
- Renew Economy 30 January 2014 http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/solar-thermal-and-storage-could-offer-best-value-for-money-76048
- Beyond Zero Emissions interview 2013 http://bze.org.au/media/radio/dr-keith-lovegrove-csp-storage-130202
- Renew Economy 23 November 2012 http://reneweconomy.com.au/2012/concentrating-solar-power-its-a-good-bet-for-the-future-63476
Trough and Fresnel systems track the sun on one axis and focus to a linear receiver. the solar radiation is concentrated by a factor of around 80 times. The tower and dish systems track the sun in two axes and concentrate it by up to thousands of times, consequently they can operate at higher temperatures more efficiently. Of the four concentrator types, it is trough systems that very much dominate. This is due to their longer track record and consequently lower technical risk profile to financial institutions. The Tower and Fresnel based configurations are beginning to gain ground. The dish approach is the least mature. However there are good reasons to suggest that dish systems have great potential in the long term due to their considerably higher efficiencies and modularity and so represent and good opportunity for the future (as discussed further at “Why (Big) Dishes” )
For a detailed understanding of Concentrating Solar Technologies principles and status see: K Lovegrove and W Stein Editors, “Concentrating Solar Power Technology: Developments and Applications”. ISBN 978 1 84569 769 3, 708 pages, Wood head Publishing, London 2012. (http://store.elsevier.com/product.jsp?isbn=9781845697693&pagename=search)
A good creditable source of information on CSP systems is via the IEA program SolarPACES (Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems):
Following the links to “technology” and “projects” connects to a very reliable data base on specific CSP projects around the world that is maintained by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory: