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Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) – around the globe

Updated on June 27, 2012

My article about parabolic trough projects in the United States was about the increasing number of CSP (Concentrating Solar Power) plants. But the US Department of Energy is not the only one with a Solar Program to support the implementation of CSP and make solar energy technologies market competitive

CSP projects in Europe

The European Union set a goal for its members to generate 20% of energy consumption from renewable sources. Spain was the first country to reach this goal, not only due to it’s favorable climate, but also due to a generous feed-in tariff (guaranteed price paid by the utilities for electricity coming from solar panels), which ultimately lead to the burst of the solar energy bubble. But, it also offered an unprecedented chance to develop and gain experience in CSP projects.

In southern Spain (Granada), Solar Millenium AG developed Europe’s first parabolic trough power plants ‘Andasol 1’, ‘Andasol 2’, and recently finished ‘Andasol 3’. Each has a capacity of 50 MW, which is the maximum system capacity eligible for certain incentives in Spain. Also in southern Spain (Seville), Abengoa Solar is operating three 50 MW units, Solnova 1, 3, and 4 (Solucar platform). More 50 MW plants are under construction, like the four plants Castilla-La Mancha Complex in Ciudad Real, which is being built also by Abengoa Solar and supposed to go online in 2012. Abengoa teamed up with Itochu Corporation to develop four 50 MW units of the Extremadura Solar Complex (Solaben 1,2,3,and 6), two of them scheduled to go online in 2012. Other 50 MW projects already in operation include Helioenergy 1 and 2 (Ejica Platform) in Seville and Solacor 1 and 2 (Elcarpio solar platform) in Cordoba. Lebrija 1, built by Siemens and Valoriza in Seville, began production in 2012.

Winner of the 2012 Intersolar Award in the category Solar Thermal Technologies was the company Soltigua from Italy. Their parabolic trough system convinced with high efficiency and profitability and case studies are being done for air conditioning (absorption chiller) and process heat production.

Middle East, India, China, etc.

Many other regions of the world, like the Middle East, India, parts of Africa, South America, or China, just to name a view, offer suitable solar irradiation conditions. Abengoa was chosen to be the developer of Kaxu Solar One in South Africa (Northern Cape) with a 100 MW capacity, which shall contribute to the country’s plan to facilitate up to 17.8 GW of renewable energy till 2030. In Chile, Abengoa has been contracted to build a solar power plant in the Atacama Desert to support heat production for the Minera El Tesoro copper mine.

In Israel, two CSP plants with a maximum capacity of 250 MW are in the planning phase as part of a Solar Park in the Negev Desert.

In India, several developers are currently planning projects in Rajasthan, like Abhijeet a 50 MW plant in Jaisalmer, Megha Engineering another 50 MW in Andhra Pradesh, or Godawari Energy also a 50 MW at Naukh village. Entegra’s 10 MW Rajasthan Solar One is under construction, with the goal to be commissioned in 2013. They are part of an India’s program to install 1.5 GW of solar power till 2013, and up to 20 GW until the year 2020.

China is also investing in CSP technology and it is estimated that by 2020, output generated by CSP technology will reach 3 GW. US company SkyFuel signed an agreement in 2011 for building a 50 MW plant near Huludao. China Power Investment Corporation is constructing a 100 MW solar thermal demonstration plant in Golmud, Qinghai.

In the United Arab Emirates, a solar power plant with 100 MW capacity (Shams 1) is being developed by the renewable energy company Masdar, Abengoa Solar and Total SA, with a plan to begin operation in 2012. Also in UAE, a 1 GW Solar Power Park (Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park) was being announced earlier this year; it will be a combination of PV (photovoltaic) and CSP.

All those projects, which are just random examples, proof that CSP certainly has its own place in the solar world. The just mentioned Dubai Solar Park shows that solar thermal systems should not compete with, but rather complement photovoltaic technologies in our effort to increase renewable energy generation.

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