The year 2005 was a turning point for the by zsg11761


									csp technology

                                                                   Big steps

                                                                                                 The year 2005 was a
                                                                                   turning point for the concentrating
                                                                    solar power (CSP) industry in the U.S. A few sur­
                                                      prising announcements in 2005 led to the construction of the first
                                        new CSP plant – Nevada Solar One – which has been online since June 2007.
                          In addition, nine other plants have been announced, proposed, or are being built since that
               time. Meanwhile, several start ups have pushed into the market.

40   sun & Wind energy 1/2008
                                                                                                                                         csp technology

                                                   efore 2005, everyone was saying, forget solar,       cost, CSP can compete effectively in the Southwest’s en-
                                                   it’s too expensive,« says Paul O’Hop, a partner      ergy markets.« NREL is partnering with the Western Gov-
                                                   with the international law firm Squire, Sand-        ernors’ Association to promote CSP in Arizona, California,
                                                   ers and Dempsey, which specialises in renew-         Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and Utah, which
                                                   able energy. For many years, only nine CSP           have the best solar resources in the U.S., NREL says.
                                                   the so called Solar Electric Generating System           In these sunny states, a big plus of CSP is its ability to
                                        (SEGS) plants – located in California and built by Luz In-      provide energy during peak hours. »One of the great
                                        ternational – were up and running. The owners went              things about solar: When it’s strongest in California, it cor-
                                        bankrupt and in early 2005, FPL Energy of Florida, one          relates with peak energy demands,« PG&E spokeswom-
                                        of the leading clean energy providers in the U.S., pur-         an Jennifer Zerwer points out. »CSP is also great in terms
                                        chased a stake in some of the plants, becoming the              of providing utility-scale solar.« That’s important to help-
                                        largest operator of CSP in the U.S., with 310 MW.               ing meet the requirements of California’s RPS. »We’re
                                            And then came the big surprise. In August 2005, the         working to meet Calfornia’s RPS requirements for 2010.
                                        project developer Stirling Energy Systems, Inc. (SES),          As part of our commitment, we are looking at a variety of
                                        based in Arizona, announced that it had signed an               technologies, and solar thermal holds a lot of promise,«
                                        agreement with the electric utility Southern California         Zerwer adds.
                                        Edison (SCE) that would result in construction of a 4,500           Unlike photovoltaic systems – which produce elec-
                                        acre (1,821 hectare) CSP station in southern California         tricity directly from sunlight – CSP technologies use the
                                        that would become the world’s largest solar facility,           sun’s heat to produce electricity in much the same way
                                        with a capacity of 500 MW, expandable to 850 MW.                that conventional power stations create it. A series of
                                        »This was huge. It shook up the market to have a com-           mirrors or parabolic troughs focus the sun’s rays on a
                                        pany like Stirling doing a big CSP project. Once you start      central receiver containing a liquid. As this liquid heats
                                        doing big projects, there are economies of scale,« O’Hop        up, it passes through a heat exchanger and generates
                                        says. About the same time, the California utility Pacific       steam, which is then used to drive a turbine. Solar ther-
                                        Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced that it had signed an           mal’s ability to use a traditional turbine is a big plus for
                                        agreement with Solel-MSP-1, a subsidiary of Israel-based        the technology, says John O’Brien, an associate in the
                                        Solel Solar Systems Ltd., to purchase 553 MW of solar           energy group with financing provider KeyBanc Capital
                                        power from the Mojave Solar Park. »The year 2005 we             Markets. And that’s not the only plus. »It’s proven tech-
                                        saw a big step up,« O’Hop adds.                                 nology, you can use a traditional turbine, you can scale
                                            Two years later, ten plants are online with a total         it up easier than PV,« he says. Southern California Edison
                                        output of 418 MW. They include the SEGS plants with a           (SCE) chooses CSP for similar reasons as PG&E. SCE likes
                                        capacity of 354 MW, and Nevada Solar One with 64 MW.            CSP’s ability to produce power when customers most
                                        Developers and utilities have either announced, pro-            need it, explains Vanessa McGrady, a SCE spokeswom-
                                        posed or are now building nine additional plants with a         an. In the utility’s efforts to meet the requirements of
                                        total output of about 3,000 MW (see table on page 42).          the California RPS, SCE is technology-neutral and does
                                        All of the activity is taking place in sun-kissed California    not choose one versus another, she says. »With SCE’s in-
                                        and the Southwest. A number of factors contributed to           terest in renewable energy, it is more likely that SCE
                                        these big steps in the industry, says Michael Fritsch,          would contract with one technology in addition to an-
                                        president & chief operating officer of the California           other, rather than choosing one versus another.«
                                        based Confoe Inc., which helps solar manufacturers                  FPL Energy, which has said it will invest US$ 1.5 bil-
                                        build their manufacturing plants more efficiently.              lion in new solar plants in California and Florida, is inter-
                                                                                                        ested in CSP in large part because it’s becoming more
                                        Solar energy during peak hours                                  cost-competitive, says Steve Stengell, spokesman for
                                                                                                        FPL Energy. FPL owns 147 MW of the 310 MW of the SEGS
                                        Many states by 2005 had renewable portfolio standards           plants (SEGS 3-9) under its operation. »If you look at wind
                                        in place, chief among them California. California’s aggres-     power, it’s still the most economic renewable resource
                                        sive Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which took ef-         out there today,« explains Stengell. »But solar is becom-
                                        fect in January 2003, requires utilities to increase sales of   ing more cost competitive. The price is moving in the
Israeli parabolic trough                renewable energy resources by at least 1 % of retail sales      right direction.
technology: The California              per year so that 20 % of retail sales are served by renew-
utility Pacific Gas & Electric          able energy by 2010. The governor has set a long-term           Challenges for new players
announced that it had                   goal of 33 % by 2020. Twenty-one states and Washing-
signed an agreement with                ton, D.C. now have RPS in place (see         Given the potential for CSP to help utilities meet the re-
the manufacturer Solel to               Arizona’s RPS calls for 15 % renewable energy by 2025.          quirements of state RPS, diversify their energy supply
purchase 553 MW of solar                    Also driving the growth is the U.S. Department of En-       and meet growing electricity demand, a number of new
power from the Mojave                   ergy’s (DOE) goal of installing 1,000 MW of CSP in the          players have entered the field in the U.S. They include
Solar Park.                             Southwest by the year 2010, with the hopes of driving           Sky Fuel, Energy Innovations, Bright Source Energy, Aus-
Photo: Pacific Gas & Electric Company   prices down, Fritsch says. »This level of deployment, com-      ra, Acciona (based in Spain), and a Colorado-based sub-
                                        bined with research and development to reduce tech-             sidiary of Abengoasolar (see box on page 44).
                                        nology component costs, could help reduce CSP electric-             However, these companies – and the utilities work-
                                        ity costs to 0.07 US$ct/kWh,« defines the U.S. DOE’s Na-        ing with them – face three main challenges, points out
                                        tional Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). »At this             Bill Felsher, vice president of project sales for Sky Fuel,

                                                                                                                                         sun & Wind energy 1/2008   41
csp technology

Name of project        Location               Type of CSP         Capacity             Dates                       Partners                               References
Plant in operation
Solar Energy Gener- San Bernardino            parabolic trough    9 plants totalling   online; commissioned        owned by Sunray Energy Inc (SEGS I
ating Systems (SEGS) County and Mojave                            354 MW               between 1984 and 1990       & II) and FPL Energy (SEGS III-IX)
                     Desert, California
Nevada Solar One       Boulder City,          parabolic trough    64 MW                online June 2007            U.S. Department of Energy; Acciona
                       Nevada                                                                                      Energy & National Renewable Energy     asp#anchor2
                                                                                                                   Laboratory; Solargenix Energy (now a
                                                                                                                   subsidiary of Acciona)
Application for construction (AFC) filed
Carrizo Energy Solar   San Luis Obispo        compact linear      177 MW               AFC filed October 2007      Carrizo Energy LLC;          
Farm                   County, California     fresnel reflector                                                    Pacific Gas & Electric; Ausra          =rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1009_3-0-10
Unnamed                Imperial Valley, San dish                  300 MW with con- 20-year agreement signed Stirling Energy Systems;            
                       Bernardino County,                         tract options ex- Octobe r 2005; AFC filed  San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)  
                       California                                 panding to 900 MW August 2007; under review
Victorville 2 Hybrid   Victorville,           parabolic trough    50 MW                AFC filed February 2007;    City of Victorville          
Power Project          California                                                      under review
Ivanpah Solar          Ivanpah, San Ber-      power tower         3 plants totalling   AFC filed September 2007    Solar Partners / Bright Source
                       nardino County,                            400 MW                                                                                  lease_AFC_09-07-2007.pdf
Projects announced
Mojave Solar Park      Mojave Desert,         parabolic trough    553 MW               agreement signed July       Solel with Pacific Gas and Electric,7340,L-3430085,00.html
                       California                                                      2005; fully operational     Company
Unnamed                Mojave Desert,         dish                500 MW with         agreement signed August      Stirling Energy Systems & Southern
                       California                                 option to expand to 2005; initial phase online   California Edison                      est_solar
                                                                  850 MW              2009, projected comple-                                   
                                                                                      tion 2012
Unnamed                to be determined,      dual axis tracking 100 MW                announced February 2006     International Automated Systems Inc.
                       Nevada                 tower / thin-film                                                    & Solar Renewable Energy-1 LLC
Barstow Solar Ther-    Barstow, San Ber-      parabolic trough    59 MW                development commenced       Solar MW Energy Inc. & Ecosystem
mal Electric Hybrid    nardino County,                                                 October 2007; permitting    Solar Electric Corporation
                       California                                                      phase
Unnamed                to be determined,      compact linear      initial capacity     announced September         Florida Power & Light; Ausra 
                       Florida                fresnel reflector   10 MW expanding      2007; projected online in                                          plans_for.shtml
                                                                  to a total of 300    2011
                                                                  MW within 4 years

   Today ten plants are online
with a total output of 418 MW.                       which is based in New Mexico. In November Sky Fuel                                  »Transmission is a stumbling block«
 Developers and utilities have                       was awarded a US$ 435,000 grant to develop its ad-
 either announced, proposed                          vanced CSP system, called the linear power tower, for                               In addition, the solar industry – like the renewable ener-
 or are now building nine ad­                        utility-scale power plants. The first challenge, says                               gy industry in general – faces transmission constraints.
                ditional plants.                     Felsher, is obtaining components in a timely fashion.                               »Virtually all new renewable projects represent trans-
                       Source: own research              »The natural resource is not the limiting factor; it’s                          mission challenges, as most projects are far away from
                                                     how fast you can build these plants. The limiting factor                            where the energy is consumed,« states SCE’s McGrady.
                                                     is the supply chain for the critical components,« he ex-                            »Also, the interconnection queue is congested, which is
                                                     plains. In fact, a September 2007 study by Black and Ve-                            leading to delays in renewable project schedules.« In fact,
                                                     atch Corporation for Arizona Public Service Company                                 she says, it’s unclear when SCE’s renewable energy projects
                                                     and Tucson Electric Power Corporation says that solar                               will come online, given the transmission roadblocks.
                                                     resources in Arizona are much larger than the potential                                 To help relieve the problem, the California Public
                                                     near-term demand. The main factor limiting CSP devel-                               Utilities Commission in March approved SCE’s applica-
                                                     opment is equipment availability, the report found. For                             tion to build segments 2 and 3 of the Tehachapi Renew-
                                                     Sky Fuel, critical equipment includes mirrors and collec-                           able Transmission Project. When completed, the project
                                                     tion elements, specifies Felsher. Sky Fuel acquires its                             will include new and upgraded high-voltage transmis-
                                                     heat collection elements overseas. It will make its own                             sion lines with the capacity to deliver 4,500 MW of elec-
                                                     mirrors in the U.S. using U.S. equipment. »The capacity                             tricity from wind farms and other generating compa-
                                                     of the industry to manufacture those two things is lim-                             nies that are proposed for northern Los Angeles and
                                                     iting,« he adds.                                                                    eastern Kern counties in southern California. To help
                                                         What’s more, Sky Fuel expects that it will become                               move electricity from its Mojave Solar Park to custom-
                                                     more difficult in the future to find skilled workers. »It’s                         ers PG&E will use some of the transmission infrastruc-
                                                     not trivial to be able to capture the sun and focus it and                          ture originally built for the now dormant coal-fired
                                                     collect heat,« Felsher says. »We need human resources                               Mojave Generation Station, PG&E announces.
                                                     with expertise in designing collectors and power plants.                                In addition, California has established a renewable
                                                     There are not many people who can do that.«                                         energy transmission initiative aimed at developing a

 42    sun & Wind energy 1/2008
csp technology

                                                                                            comprehensive plan for addressing the transmission re-
Plans of new players in the sector of concentrating solar power                             quirements of renewable energy, says Adam Browning,
in the U.S.                                                                                 executive director of California’s The Vote Solar Initia-
                                                                                            tive. »Solar will have a seat in this process,« he declares.
The Spanish utility Acciona is the owner      name of the company was changed from          New Mexico has a renewable energy transmission au-
and operator of the Nevada Solar One          Luz II, Inc. to Bright Source Energy, Inc.    thority. »The idea here is to figure out ways to develop
project, online since June. »We look for-     The Luz II name was retained by Bright        the industry most sensibly,« he says.
ward to additional projects in the future,«   Source’s wholly owned subsidiary in Isra-         FPL Energy’s Stengell agrees that transmission is a
says Lena Stinsa, a spokeswoman for Ac-       el, which is responsible for engineering      stumbling block. »This is especially true if you’re looking
ciona Energy North Amercia Corporation.       and development, and the supply of solar      at places like California that have transmission chal-                               fields for BrightSource plants.               lenges to begin with. It’s an issue for us whether we’re
                                                        developing a wind project or solar projects,« he differ-
Abengoa solar’s U.S. unit, based in Colo-                                                   entiates. However, solar has one advantage over wind
rado, is actively pursuing projects, says     The start up engineering group energy         power when it comes to finding transmission, specifies
Hank Price, vice president of technology      Innovations, Inc., based in California, is    KeyBanc Capital Markets’ O’Brien. If developers build so-
development. The company with a Span-         developing a concentrating PV system          lar thermal plants along with natural gas-fired plants,
ish mother is bidding on utility request      that is not yet in commercial operation,      they can maintain a flat level of output that makes it
for proposals, he adds. »We came here         says Steven Chadima, executive vice pres-     easier and less expensive to obtain transmission. »With
because the market is growing in the U.S.«.   ident of external affairs.                    wind, the wind could or could not be blowing. So when                                           you’re working with transmission, it’s harder. You have
                                                                                            to reserve space on a line, and you might not have the
Project developer Ausra, based in Califor-    Fpl energy, one of the leading suppliers      electricity. If you co-site solar with natural gas, you can
nia, has filed with the California Energy     of clean energy and owner of portions         have a good idea of how much energy you might have,«
Commission an application to build a 177      of the SEGS plants, plans to invest US$ 1.5   adds Pat Stanton, vice president of clean energy mar-
MW plant in Carrizo, central California.      billion in new CSP plants in Florida and      kets for the Massachusetts-based Conservation Services
Construction will begin in 2009, with the     California over the next seven years, ac-     Group, »a power plant project that can be dispatchable
plant online in 2010. In November, Ausra      cording to Stengell. »We will start out       – meeting the grid demand any time of day – is more
signed a power purchase agreement             with 10 MW projects and will work up to       attractive. I hear this from project developers as an ar-
with PG&E, according to Emily Chamber-        300 MW projects,« he announces. »We’re        gument for supporting large solar thermal projects.«
lin, a spokeswoman for Ausra. »We have        looking at a couple of locations in south-        Along with transmission, the price of CSP is still a
additional plants in the planning proc-       ern California and a couple in the south-     roadblock to large-scale implementation, However,
ess,« she says.                               west,« he says.                               many industry players remain confident that the price                                                    will drop to competitive levels in the near future. »We’re
                                                                                            optimistic that the costs are going to continue to move
In September the Californian Bright           New Mexico-based start up sky Fuel re-        in the right direction and that we’re going to see some
source energy Inc., filed with the Califor-   ceived the U.S. Department of Energy’s        new solar built,« states FPL’s Stengell.
nia Energy Commission an application to       (DOE) grant to develop a highly efficient         However, Fritsch says that CSP scores well against
develop a 400 MW solar power plant site.      and low-cost parabolic trough concentra-      other technologies when utilities consider its leveled
Bright Source plans to build three sepa-      tor. The linear power tower called »Sky-      cost of energy. »This makes it an attractive RPS choice,«
rate solar plants on a site in California     Trough« utilises a lightweight space          he points out. The DOE projects the leveled cost of large
known as Ivanpah, about five miles south-     frame and a glass-free reflective surface     photovoltaic installations to be 0.22 US$/kWh in 2007
west of Primm, Nevada. The plant will         that significantly reduce the cost of the     and between 0.08 and 0.10 US$/kWh in 2020, CSP, on
use »Distributed Power Tower« solar field     solar thermal system, says a company          the other hand, is expected to be less expensive – 0.20
technology developed by Luz II in Israel,     press release. The DOE grant provides         US$/kWh in 2007 and 0.05 US$/kWh in 2020. »We’ve
a wholly owned subsidiary of Bright           funding for the next generation CSP sys-      also seen estimates that the leveled cost of energy from
Source Energy. The company is negotiat-       tem.                                          a CSP plant in the first deployment phase is estimated
ing with California utilities for the pur-                               to be 148 US$/MWh, which is lower than a simple cycle
chase of the power. Charlie Ricker, senior                                                  natural gas plant at 168 US$/MWh,« Fritsch adds.
vice president for marketing and business     stirling energy systems, Inc. (ses), a de-        In fact, CSP is seeing a »renaissance« especially in the
development, declined to discuss pro-         veloper and owner of alternative energy       sun-kissed Southwest, according to a recent study from
jects other than the Ivanpah plant.           solutions, is developing the 500 MW CSP       Emerging Energy Research, a research and advisory firm
    Bright Source Energy was founded as       plant in the Mojave Desert. Laura Hecker,     analysing clean and renewable energy markets. CSP is the
Luz II in 2004 by Arnold Goldman and          a spokeswoman for Stirling, declined to       fastest growing utility-scale renewable energy alterna-
renamed to Bright Source in 2006. Gold-       provide details about the status of the       tive after wind power. Up to US$ 20 billion will be invest-
man was the founder and CEO of Luz            project or about the company’s future         ed in solar CSP over the next five years, the study says. Y
International Ltd., which built the nine      plans.                                                                                                         Lisa Cohn
SEGS plants in the 1980s in California.
                                                                                            Further information:
    In 2004, Goldman reassembled a                                                          solel solar systems ltd:
number of members of the original Luz                                                       southern california edison (sce):
International executive and technical                                                       the Vote solar Initiative:

team and founded Luz II. In 2006, the                                                       Portland-Oregon based writer Lisa Cohn specialises in energy. Visit her at
                                                                                   Intern Sarah Beecroft contributed to this story.

44   sun & Wind energy 1/2008

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