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Concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) market could reach 24 GW by 2020

According to a new market report by CSP Today and Altran, CSP growth in the next 10 years will be concentrated in two key markets - Spain and USA, the USA currently having the largest market as measured by installed capacity - at 63% of global installed capacity.

According to the report - Global Concentrated Solar Power Industry Report - however, most new projects under construction (88%) are located in Spain, which highlights the effectiveness of feed-in-tariffs (FiTs) in encouraging the adoption of CSP.

Worldwide, says the report, there are currently 679 MW of installed CSP capacity - and more than 2000 MW under construction.

In terms of installed capacity, the USA is the largest market holding a 63% market share, followed by Spain with 32% of operating capacity. The report states that these two markets will continue to be crucial for the development of the industry into the next decade, with Spain accounting for the largest share of projects under construction - with almost 89%. Further growth is expected across markets in the Middle East and North Africa such as Israel, the UAE, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt.

Support crucial

Although a thriving industry, Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is still dependant on government support for growth, given the fact that it is still up to four times more expensive than energy produced by fossil fuels.

The solar field represents the largest share of the cost of any CSP plant. Depending on the technology, solar field costs could vary from around 43% - for Tower and Fresnel technology - to almost 60% for Parabolic Trough and Dish Stirling technology. And the report concludes that the most significant cost reductions are likely to come about by innovations in solar field design, which could bring down the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) by 15% to 28% - depending on the technology.

The report continues that the CSP market will continue to be dominated by Parabolic Trough technology, which accounts for 88% of operating plants and 97.5% of the projects under construction. This preference for Parabolic Trough is due to the fact that it is the only technology proven to perform after 20 years on the ground, as testified to by the SEGS Parabolic Troughs which are still operating despite being installed in the 1980s.

But despite the dominance of Parabolic Trough, the report reveals Power Tower technology is making headway into the CSP market with 5% of operating capacity. For many, Tower represents the next step in CSP technology and many of its proposed variants could bring about significant increases in efficiency and annual electricity yield. However, a lack of practical experience with utility scale projects seems to be holding this technology back.

The Global Concentrated Solar Power Industry Report 2010-2011 report will be released on 23 November 2009 and is available for pre-order from CSP Today.

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