Friday, February 08, 2008
Concentrating Solar Power has bright future
The very fact that within just a matter of a few months a second renewable energy conference devoted entirely to CSP was held in Spain is no co-incidence. This is an industry that is evolving by the day and such is the promise of it being on the verge of a tipping point was demonstrated by who attended. This time, attendees did not merely include international as well as national industry players but also investors and the speculators. VC's (who happily just want to throw money at CSP but complain that there aren't enough projects for them to invest in) and banks (who are becoming remarkably CSP friendly in their support) vied for space with oil and power companies who are now considering extending their rapidly depleting energy portfolios into CSP. Suddenly everyone is recognising the potential opportunity. Sign of the times.
Dr Gerhardt Knies, who has shaped the bold vision of the EUMENA - DESERTEC alliance over the past few years, now presents a viable roadmap for rapid CSP commercialisation, comparable to the remarkable achievement of the Apollo mission. To reach the goal of 3,200TWh/y required by 2050 would demand rapid deployment on the scale of 1GW every day from 2020. He calls for a EUMENA solar energy alliance - an alliance between Europe, the Middle East and North Africa to build an HVDC supergrid and share the solar resources. This is now beginning to capture the imagination of politicians and commissioners alike.
Building on the phenomenal success of feed-in tariffs for CSP in southern Europe, an EU commissioned Solar Initiative is due to commence next month. The groundswell of support for a EUMENA solar co-operation at all levels demonstrates that what was once CSP power-point is now becoming CSP power plant.
Such is the success of CSP in Spain, that the feed-in tariff cap has already been reached 3 years early. The industry is waiting to hear how far the cap will be extended to ensure progress of further development projects in the pipeline. Meanwhile in the USA, the future acceleration of CSP remains dependent on the extension of the Investment Tax Credit to ensure crucial investor support continues. They too expect to hear very soon whether a further extension of 8 years has been granted.
It is no longer a matter of 'if' but now a matter of 'when'. One thing is for sure, the next few months for CSP are full of promise.
The Pros and Cons of Solar Power
Even Malcom Wicks MP finds the prospect of CSP rather exciting. To hear the latest on CSP: Costing the Earth podcast: Bring Me Sunshine