After six years in the industry and one year of intense research, CSP Today launched its new Global Tracker initiative aimed at bringing greater transparency to the CSP industry
The Tracker takes the form of an interactive map that lists CSP plants on a country-specific basis. MW allocation, development status technology and developers are all included in the description of each plant, whilst the premium content aspect of the Tracker digs deeper to provide data on incentive structures, financial loans, technology suppliers and in-depth market and policies analysis.
CSP Today speaks to Carlos Marquez, head researcher at CSP Today about the Global Tracker to illuminate the motives behind establishing this CSP business tool, as well as the challenges faced in its initial development and its future growth.
1. CSP Today: Where did the drive come from to develop this project?
In conversations over the past four years with companies across the CSP industry, I identified a definite need for a single, inclusive source of CSP data and information. Existing information was always fragmented or difficult to obtain making research into markets and projects exceedingly difficult and time consuming.
The Global Tracker, to me, provided an ideal solution to this dilemma. On one site we could give a global overview of all CSP plants above 1 MW around the world, illustrating plant locations, companies involved, project timelines and how likely a project is to go ahead in terms of the funding and permitting it had achieved.
I therefore started doing more in-depth research about a year ago and put the basic structure of the Tracker together, which a team of researchers built upon over the past year.
2. CSP Today: What were the major challenges in creating the product?
Verifying the accuracy of data was a huge challenge, particularly seeing that the growing nature of the CSP industry is always changing, making many existing on-line sources out of date. To overcome this, we went directly to the companies involved with the data we already had and asked them to verify the projects they were involved and that the data was correct, making adjustments where necessary.
3. CSP Today: How will it be used and who do you see using it?
The big benefit of the Tracker is that it is being constantly updated, making it a valuable tool throughout the industry. It will be a crucial tool to suppliers who want to have the latest information on world-wide markets and new projects under development. Business developers also stand to benefit from the Tracker as they will be able to easily be able to see which technologies and markets are gaining ground and which are starting to slow.
The Markets Tracker, which is part of the Global Tracker, could be used by strategy planners as it gives them a 360 degree view, where they can see upcoming changes. Also in terms on product development, on the tracker we have three reports: The CSP Markets Report: 2013 Edition, CSP Parabolic Trough Report: Cost, Performance & Key Trends 2013 and CSP Solar Tower Report: Cost, Performance & Key Trends 2013. This is a massive tool in directing developers as to where they can find the best value. In addition there is also a Quarterly Update which gives a summary of major events, trends and changes identified in the Tracker every three months.
4. CSP Today: You have been involved in researching CSP for a number of years. In your research for the Global Tracker, were there any new themes that you uncovered that you were previously unaware of?
There were actually quite a lot of new things that struck me when researching the data for the Tracker. Firstly, the international organisations such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the IFC and so forth play such a pivotal role in making CSP projects possible. I had realised they were involved, but not quite to the extent seen in the tracker. Secondly I was also surprised to see just how many international players there are in CSP outside of the well-known industry giants. CSP has so many related industries in component manufacturing and so forth. There is also a definite growth in the number of new and established companies moving into CSP. This is positive: it will provide the industry with greater choice and potentially cost reductions. I have also noticed that Tower technology is becoming more prevalent. Previously the industry was definitely dominated by parabolic troughs. Now however, more and more plants are using alternative technologies. This is an indication of the industry’s evolution, how it is adapting to challenges and growing through innovation, not only in small tweaks but in revolutionary developments that ultimately will lead to cost reduction.
Finally, even though CSP is faced by tough times in the US and Spanish markets, the Tracker has illuminated that there are constantly new opportunities coming to the fore. The CSP market in Chile is close to being realised, whilst there are discussions about CSP in Argentina, Namibia and more visibly in Saudi Arabia. Here is where the Tracker comes into its maximum value – it helps us in the industry keep track of developments all around the world.
For more information on the Global Tracker see this demo