Mathew Brett, the new Senior Vice President of International Development of BrightSource, discusses future CSP trends and markets including hybridization, molten salts and South Africa to name a few
BrightSource has emerged as one of the major CSP giants in the Industry. With its 29MW Coalinga plant already in operation in California, the company has close to 2GW of CSP under planning, development and construction (including the massive Hidden Hills and Rio Mesa plants each totalling 500 MW).
1. CSP Today: With 20 years’ experience in the energy industry at Advanced Power AG and InterGen, you also have a long history in finance and project development. This seems like an ideal skills base to help lead the CSP industry forward. What challenges do you see for the immediate future for BrightSource’s CSP markets and what steps do you think can help overcome these difficulties?
Each of the markets we’re focused on has its own unique attributes. I have always found it is important to approach each market individually and leverage local expertise as much as possible to help overcome the region-specific barriers to entry. Often, the challenges you run into are associated with areas you would not have predicted and new ones present themselves as you journey through the development.
2. Do you foresee any major trends for CSP development in the next year?
I have followed the changes in the energy industry and the move toward renewables throughout my career. Of all the technologies I have explored, I believe solar thermal, and Power Towers in particular, can deliver what the global energy markets need – reliable, clean power at a scale that is meaningful. Energy storage is becoming increasingly important for utility customers and we will be integrating molten salt storage into future projects. The use of solar steam plants to supplant other types of fuel is also becoming increasingly popular. For example, BrightSource has been producing solar steam to support oil extraction at a Chevron plant in California for almost a year. Hybridized solar thermal plants will also gain popularity in the coming years.
3. The majority of BrightSource’s plants are based in the USA, with one 6 MWth pilot plant in Israel. Is BrightSource exploring the option of moving into emerging markets?
We are exploring all of the global markets with strong solar resources and supportive policy. An example of such a market is South Africa, where we agreed to conduct a FEED study for a solar thermal plant with Sasol, a leading energy company. All of the markets that we are pursuing are compelling in their own right - the Chinese market is interesting because of its expected growth and scale. We also believe there are opportunities to provide steam for power or other schemes such as enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in the Middle East.
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