Concentrated Solar Market Young, But Growing

Since the installation of the Solar Energy Generating System 1 (SEGS 1) plant in the Mojave Desert in 1985, the United States has been the world leader in concentrated solar power (CSP) technology. However, that distinction was taken over last year by Spain, which entered the CSP market in 2007, and has since installed 582.4-megawatts of CSP capacity. A new report from market research firm GlobalData finds that the total capacity of global CSP installations will reach 70.8 GW by 2020.

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) – a  Global Market Size, Competitive Landscape, Regulations & Investment Analysis to 2020 describes key drivers and challenges in the global CSP market, and provides historical and forecast data for installed capacity and power generation through 2020. The report also analyzes the CSP market in the context of individual country policy frameworks, and finds that the market is driven by strong government support and financial incentives state renewable portfolio standards in the United States; and in Spain, by the country’s aggressive feed-in tariff policy. The U.S. and Spanish governments also encourage investment in the sector by offering loans and grants to plant developers.

concentrated solar power

image via Wikimedia Commons

The report finds that the primary barriers to CSP development are the relative high cost of generation compared to conventional electricity, as well as the economies of scale that developers must achieve in order to build a CSP plant. Other barriers include land and environmental constraints, and the layout of current grid infrastructure. For example, the areas of highest CSP potential are, in general, typically far from the areas of highest energy demand.

According to GlobalData, the American Southwest has the highest potential for CSP generation. Other areas with significant potential include the Middle East, Mediterranean countries, and areas in Eastern and Central Asia. The report can be ordered from the GlobalData website.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).