This week’s CSP Today news brief includes eSolar, Sanmina-SCI; SHEC Energy; Dow Heat Transfer Fluids, The Dow Chemical Company; University of Tennessee Baker Center, Solar Energy Industries Association; International Energy Agency.
eSolar ties up with Sanmina-SCI
Solar thermal power technology company eSolar and electronics contract manufacturer Sanmina-SCI have joined hands to design CSP components.
Sanmina-SCI will focus on its manufacturing and supply chain design to optimise Burbank, California-based eSolar’s solar collector system. The two entities plan to leverage their respective expertise in solar thermal energy solutions, local content-optimised component design, and manufacturing.
eSolar intends to become more cost-competitive via manufacturing cost reductions. The company plans to optimise its products for manufacturability, scalability and cost-efficiency.
eSolar’s modular and scalable CSP plant design utilises sun tracking equipment. The heliostats track the sun and reflect the sun’s heat to a tower-mounted receiver, which boils water to create steam. This steam powers a traditional turbine and generator to produce electricity.
SHEC Energy backs cost-busting claims with lab results
Saskatoon, Canada-based SHEC Energy says it now has lab results to prove that it can reduce the cost of solar power by about 75% over existing solar systems. That makes it competitive with the lowest-cost fossil fuels.
The company highlighted that solar power produced by existing systems costs around $0.13 to $0.20 per kilowatt hour (kWh). According to Tom Beck, president of the company, SHEC’s technology can reduce that cost to between $0.06 and $0.08 per kWh. The company says its CSP system lowers the cost of the solar field and increases the efficiency of thermal energy storage.
SHEC says high capital costs and intermittency – the sun doesn’t shine at night – have always been barriers to wide adoption. For its part, the company claims it has successfully overcome both issues.
SHEC’s solar concentrator is a parabolic dish. The dish comprises an array of parabolic mirrors.
Dow Heat Transfer Fluids eyes Middle East
Dow Heat Transfer Fluids, a unit of The Dow Chemical Company, is eyeing opportunities in the Middle East market. The company intends to capitalise on its total solution approach to serving the CSP industry.
Dow’s continual growth in the CSP industry has led to the use of heat transfer fluid Dowtherm A in more than 24 large scale CSP installations globally with a total power generation capacity of more than 1 GW.
Late last year, Dow introduced a solution to help increase the solar efficiency and output of concentrated solar power plants. The dual loop CSP system design takes advantage of the reliability of its heat transfer fluid and the high temperature capabilities of molten salt to produce approximately 10% more electricity than a conventional CSP system with the same size solar field. Overall thermal efficiency is increased from 38% to over 42%, according to the company.
In October last year, the company was awarded contracts to supply Dowtherm A to key projects, including Termosolar Guzman, Astexol-2 (Elecnor), Aste 1A (Elecnor), Aste 1B (Elecnor), Extresol 3,Orellana, Africa Solar and Termosolar Borges, bringing approximately 375 MW of power.
Solar energy growth path comparable to fossil fuels
A new independent research report in the US has indicated that solar energy is following the same path to commercialisation as other traditional energy sources spurred by federal incentives.
The University of Tennessee Baker Center’s study, Assessment of Incentives and Employment Impacts of Solar Industry Deployment, finds that diffusion of solar energy technology in the energy markets is very similar to the paths that many American industries have travelled to become mainstream. Unlike more mature technologies, however, that continue to receive subsidies, solar energy is currently in a very early phase of its growth trajectory.
The report points out that solar energy benefits the U.S. energy portfolio by decreasing the impact of supply disruptions and price volatility of other sources of energy.
The report finds that traditional fuels have been subsidised for decades and followed similar growth trajectories toward majority adoption. Also, every significant energy resource deployed in the U.S. today has had approximately 30 years of innovation and early adoption before beginning rapid growth that brought about mainstream adoption.
The study was funded by a research grant from the Solar Energy Industries Association.
IEA solar stats reveal 'recession proof' growth
International Energy Agency (IEA)’s IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (IEA SHC) has released its latest statistics of worldwide solar heating and cooling. Despite the economic crisis, the market grew by 14% in 2010, with installed capacities of solar collectors reaching 196 GWth. The collectors provided 162 TWh of solar thermal energy.
The annual statistics Solar Heat Worldwide provide data from 55 countries, representing over 90% of the global solar thermal market. The vast majority of the total 2010 capacity was in China (117.6 GWth) and Europe (36.0 GWth), which together accounted for 78.5% of the total capacity.
By the end of 2010, an installed capacity of 195.8 GWth corresponding to a total of 279.7 million sq. m. of collector area was in operation. The breakdown of the cumulated capacity in operation in 2010 by collector type is 31.7% glazed flat-plate collectors, 56.6% evacuated tube collectors, 11.0% unglazed water collectors and 0.7% glazed and unglazed air collectors.