Solar thermal seeks U.S. breakthrough  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

Reuters has an article on the challenge posed by ever cheaper solar PV power to large scale solar thermal power (which I think will still scale better to very large scale generation, once economies of scale are achieved) - Solar thermal seeks U.S. breakthrough.

Solar thermal power could be close to a breakthrough in the U.S. market, but only if developers can shave costs to beat back competition from photovoltaic (PV) solar systems, and attract the huge sums needed to finance the renewable energy plants.

While the new technology has been touted as a solution toward moving the United States away from its dependence on fossil fuels, it has so far stumbled because of the high price tag for the massive plants.

Solar thermal companies like Brightsource and eSolar, both of which count search giant Google Inc among their investors, and Spain's Abengoa Solar, have technology that concentrates the sun's rays to heat water into steam and drive a generator.

Traditional PV modules made by companies like First Solar and Suntech directly convert sunlight into electricity, and make up the largest chunk of the solar market.

Backers of solar thermal have said it would claim the lion's share of large-scale projects in the United States, but a sharp drop in PV panel prices has drawn much of the market's interest to that technology.

"With panel prices coming down so much for solar PV, solar thermal does not look as cost-competitive anymore," Wedbush analyst Christine Hersey said.

Solar thermal is economical only on a large scale, lifting total project costs into hundreds of millions of dollars, while PV systems can be built piecemeal in smaller steps that are easier to finance.

"It does not make sense to do a (thermal) plant that is less than 100 megawatt (MW)," Cowen & Co analyst Rob Stone said. "That is because of the cost of the steam plant that goes with it."

PV, however, can be used for a wide range of applications, from very large to very small.

"In terms of ubiquity, PV is ultimately going to be the most widely deployed technology just because it's going to show up ranging in size from 500 MW projects all the way down to solar cells on the roof of a hybrid vehicle," Stone said.

1 comments

Well, it's an old saw for this blog. Imagine, if you will,Rob Stone - Cowen & Co analyst - your federal government providing an incentive to shutdown a dirty coal plant and use its steam system for solar thermal.

Post a Comment

Statistics

Locations of visitors to this page

blogspot visitor
Stat Counter

Total Pageviews

Ads

Books

Followers

Blog Archive

Labels

australia (607) global warming (393) solar power (377) peak oil (343) renewable energy (254) electric vehicles (221) wind power (184) ocean energy (163) csp (157) geothermal energy (144) solar thermal power (144) smart grids (139) tidal power (137) coal seam gas (130) oil (130) solar pv (127) nuclear power (126) energy storage (125) lng (116) china (113) geothermal power (112) iraq (112) green buildings (109) natural gas (108) agriculture (88) oil price (79) biofuel (78) smart meters (72) wave power (71) uk (68) electricity grid (67) energy efficiency (63) coal (62) google (57) bicycle (51) internet (51) shale gas (49) surveillance (49) food prices (48) big brother (47) thin film solar (42) canada (40) biomimicry (39) scotland (38) ocean power (37) politics (37) shale oil (37) tesla (37) new zealand (35) air transport (34) algae (34) water (34) concentrating solar power (32) queensland (32) saudi arabia (32) california (31) credit crunch (31) bioplastic (30) offshore wind power (30) arctic ice (29) population (29) cogeneration (28) geoengineering (28) batteries (26) drought (26) resource wars (26) woodside (26) bruce sterling (25) censorship (25) cleantech (25) ctl (23) economics (22) limits to growth (22) carbon tax (20) coal to liquids (20) distributed manufacturing (20) indonesia (20) iraq oil law (20) lithium (20) origin energy (20) brightsource (19) buckminster fuller (19) rail transport (19) ultracapacitor (19) exxon (18) santos (18) ausra (17) michael klare (17) atlantis (16) cellulosic ethanol (16) collapse (16) electric bikes (16) iceland (16) mapping (16) ucg (16) bees (15) concentrating solar thermal power (15) ethanol (15) geodynamics (15) psychology (15) brazil (14) fertiliser (14) lithium ion batteries (14) al gore (13) ambient energy (13) biodiesel (13) bucky fuller (13) carbon emissions (13) cities (13) investment (13) kenya (13) matthew simmons (13) public transport (13) biochar (12) chile (12) desertec (12) internet of things (12) otec (12) texas (12) victoria (12) cradle to cradle (11) energy policy (11) hybrid car (11) terra preta (11) toyota (11) amory lovins (10) fabber (10) gazprom (10) goldman sachs (10) gtl (10) severn estuary (10) tinfoil (10) volt (10) afghanistan (9) alaska (9) antarctica (9) biomass (9) carbon trading (9) distributed generation (9) esolar (9) four day week (9) fuel cells (9) jeremy leggett (9) pge (9) sweden (9) arrow energy (8) big oil (8) eroei (8) fish (8) floating offshore wind power (8) guerilla gardening (8) linc energy (8) methane (8) methane hydrates (8) nanosolar (8) natural gas pipelines (8) pentland firth (8) relocalisation (8) saul griffith (8) stirling engine (8) us elections (8) western australia (8) airborne wind turbines (7) bloom energy (7) boeing (7) bolivia (7) chp (7) climategate (7) copenhagen (7) vinod khosla (7) apocaphilia (6) ceramic fuel cells (6) cigs (6) futurism (6) jatropha (6) local currencies (6) nigeria (6) ocean acidification (6) scenario planning (6) somalia (6) t boone pickens (6) space based solar power (5) varanus island (5) garbage (4) global energy grid (4) kevin kelly (4) low temperature geothermal power (4) oled (4) tim flannery (4) v2g (4) club of rome (3) norman borlaug (2) peak oil portfolio (1)