Areva Solar’s VP of global sales, Jayesh Goyal talks about Areva’s MENA market penetration strategy, and how Saudi Arabia is shaping up to be a key solar market.
Interview by Rikki Stancich
In the last 24 months, Areva Solar has made significant strides in securing its place in the global concentrated solar power (CSP) arena.
French nuclear energy giant Areva made its debut on the solar scene in early 2010, when it snapped up Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) technology developer, Ausra, in a move it described as ‘its first step to becoming a global solar energy business’.
Back then, Ausra’s project portfolio included the 5MW Kimberlina demonstration plant in Bakersfield CA and its 9 MWt, Liddell coal-fired/solar power augmentation facility in New South Wales, Australia, with other signficant projects in the pipeline.
Areva has taken these same projects forward, signing a contract with CS Energy to install a 44 megawatt solar thermal augmentation project at a 750 megawatt coal-fired power station at Kogan Creek in Queensland, due to come online next year.
Down Under, the company is also heading up a consortium named Solar Dawn, which was awarded a contract by the Australian government to build a 250 megawatt solar thermal facility near Chinchilla in south-west Queensland. While the project has incurred a few hiccups (one of the partners, CS Energy, pulled out and the consortium has missed a crucial deadline), the consortium is expected to have secured financing for the project by June 30, following a deadline extension by the Australian government.
In the US, Areva recently partnered with Tucson Electric Power (TEP) to bolt 5MW of concentrated solar power capacity onto TEP’s H. Wilson Sundt (coal-fired) Generating Station in Arizona. The Sundt Solar Boost Project is part of TEP’s plan to expand its solar generating capacity to more than 200 MW by the end of 2014.
Last month Areva was awarded a contract by the Indian group Reliance Power Limited to build two concentrated solar power installation in Rajasthan. These CSP plants will each produce 125 MW using Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector technology, and are due to come online in 2013.
The company has yet to secure any contracts in the Middle East and North Africa, (MENA), a region that promises to generate significant demand for CSP technologies. But according to Areva’s VP of global sales, Jayesh Goyal, this is about to change.
CSP Today: Which MENA markets is AREVA targeting and what is AREVA’s strategy for penetrating those markets?
Jayesh Goyal: AREVA expects to be active throughout the MENA region, wherever CSP plants are being considered, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and other emerging markets.
We are setting up regional offices and will offer our high-pressure, superheated steam Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) solar steam generators (SSGs) throughout the MENA region.
Our SSGs serve a broad range of applications, including power generation, steam augmentation for existing fossil-fired plants (without added emissions), and for industrial steam processes, such as enhanced oil recovery and desalination.
Our position will be that of a Concentrated Solar Power technology supplier, and we are partnering with leading developers and EPC firms in the region. As a designer, manufacturer and installer of CLFR SSGs, AREVA can also deliver from 60-80% local content and strong job creation.
CSP Today: What does AREVA perceive as being the biggest challenge to CSP deployment in the region?
Jayesh Goyal: The main issue, in our view, is market certainty in terms of stable government policy and suitable tariffs or incentives to promote development of technology-neutral solar energy.
CSP Today: What is the status of the feed-in tariff in Saudi Arabia and is there any evidence that the Kingdom's show of support for renewables has boosted the potential for CSP development there?
Jayesh Goyal: Yes, there is strong support for renewables in Saudi Arabia, and based on our conversations with stakeholders in the Kingdom, it is clear that there is a large potential for CSP development. CSP development will not only help the Kingdom save more of its precious oil resources, but it will also provide jobs and spur the local economy.
More details of the policy are expected in the May-June timeframe this year. The feed-in tariff is likely to be established after one or two rounds of competitive bidding on projects.
CSP Today: How well does linear Fresnel technology lend itself to powering desalination plants in the MENA region? Is this a market area that AREVA is pursuing?
Jayesh Goyal: We produce steam at different temperatures and pressures, and desalination (thermal or electrical) is certainly a potential application. AREVA is pursuing this market as well, and the key is finding desalination plants that are also in areas with good DNI.
CSP Today: Which / how many solar booster projects are in AREVA’s project pipeline in the region?
Jayesh Goyal: We currently have 5 booster project prospects in the region and expect the pipeline to grow significantly.
CSP Today: The Emirates are facing a major challenge of meeting spiraling energy demand. What portion of that demand could realistically be met by CSP?
Jayesh Goyal: A mix of technologies will be needed to meet the demand. Baseload resources are also required, so we believe nuclear energy and renewables are both important to meet the demand.
Within solar, with the help of a supportive government policy, CSP plants could easily contribute several hundred megawatts in capacity each year.
CSP Today: Does AREVA’s technology now compete with PV on cost?
Jayesh Goyal: AREVA Solar's CLFR solutions compete favorably with PV for electricity generation through power augmentation; whereby solar steam generators integrate with existing fossil-fired plants to increase output without added emissions.
For a “booster” application, we are the lowest cost solar solution on the market. For stand-alone plants, costs are slightly higher than PV, but the value delivered in terms of grid stability and dispatchability offsets these costs, and we are already starting to see utilities view these as advantages for projects.
CSP Today: What are the main cost drivers of AREVA’s linear Fresnel technology and what steps is AREVA taking to contain or lower these costs?
Jayesh Goyal: The main cost drivers are the procurement of steel and glass, and AREVA is leveraging its extensive global supply chain and is partnering with local suppliers to further lower costs. In India, for example, by focusing on these drivers we were able to lower the costs of solar plants by more than 20%.
Hear more from Jayesh Goyal at CSP Today’s MENASOL event, taking place 16th-17th May 2012, Abu Dhabi.
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