Energy Storage - A Key Determinant for the Future of Concentrated Solar Power Market
Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is an upcoming renewable technology which promises to provide cost-effective power generation with improved efficiency. Although the technology has been in existence since the 1980’s, growth of CSP was hindered by a number of factors such as high cost of capital, global economic slowdown resulting in lack of finance, competition from other low cost renewable technologies such as wind and solar PV, and lack of specific government support in the form of favorable policies. The performance of a CSP system is dependent on direct normal irradiance (DNI). Other factors which determine the financial viability of a CSP project include type of technology used, costs involved and the extent of government support provided. Due to these parameters, the number of regions in which CSP systems can be installed and remain financially viable are limited.
Cumulative installed capacity of CSP in the world increased from 1,092 MW in 2010 to 5,597 MW in 2018 at a CAGR of 22.5%. CSP market development slowed down in the last 4-5 years as prices for competing technologies such as solar PV nose-dived. CSP is once again gaining prominence with research and development (R&D) to increase efficiencies, improve storage capabilities and reduce costs. With more and more countries adopting ambitious renewable targets, need for reliable and stable power is gaining prominence. CSP with energy storage has the ability to provide stable, scalable and reliable power. Thermal storage helps store solar heat generated during the sunny period to convert it to electricity when needed. Thermal storage thus helps in making solar power dispatchable, making it a reliable source of power generation. Of the 5.6 GW active CSP capacity by the end of 2018, around 2.6 GW is with energy storage and around 3 GW is without storage.
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