According to the analysis of Pike Research, the global market of Concentrated Solar Power Generation (CSP) will surge from $2.1 billion in 2012 to $5.1 billion in 2013, and the United States will remain the industry leader with a series of technological developments.
In May, 3M's renewable energy sector and Gossamer Space Frames announced a new parabolic trough collector designed to reduce CSP installation costs and increase capacity.
Large aperture groove 73 (LAT 73) is characterized by having a collector factor of more than 100 times and an aperture of 7.3 meters in size. Its length is 192 meters. It consists of 16 12-meter-long components with a collector area of 1400 m2. The company said the system would reduce the installation cost of parabolic trough solar power plants by more than 25%, which would increase the competitiveness of CSP technology relative to solar cell technology (PV).
Glenn Reynolds, president and co-founder of Gossamer Space Frames, said many people believe that "CSP technology cannot be reborn," but LAT73 proved this wrong.
The large commercial CSP projects under construction in the United States include two 280 MW projects (i.e., the Solana thermal storage tank in Arizona and the California Mojave Desert thermal tank in California), as well as the world's largest solar facility under construction, BrightSource's 392 MW in California Mojave Desert. Ivanpah central collector tower project.
BrightSource also built a 29 MW solar-steam demonstration facility with nearly 4,000 software-controlled solar mirrors and a 327 ft high boiler tower for Chevron to enhance its oil recovery in the California-based Coringa Oilfield. The generated high temperature and high pressure steam injection reservoir reduces reservoir viscosity and improves oil recovery. The device makes it clear that the CSP device can be used as a non-emission auxiliary measure to exploit other energy sources.
Solar Research's 110 MW project, Crescent Dunes, is scheduled to be completed in late 2013 in Tonopah, Nevada. The project has an important milestone in the history of scale application of solar molten salt heat storage central collector technology. The project will be the first commercial solar tower in the United States to adopt integrated thermal storage technology, and the largest of its kind in the world. This dwarfs the 19.9MW Gemasolar device near Seville, Spain, which is the world's first commercial device to use molten salt storage technology from a central collector.
The Crescent Dunes project will be built, operated and owned by Tonopah Solar Solar Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Solar Research. The project will adopt Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne's development and exclusive global technology for molten salt heat storage. The collector at the top of the 653ft tower will collect solar energy from a solar reflector covering 1600 acres. When molten salt is heated above 1000F, it will be circulated in the collector and stored in a large insulated tank, which can be used to drive traditional steam turbines to generate electricity when needed.
Gemasolar's solar storage system can maintain power supply without solar energy input for up to 15 hours, while Crescent Dunes project will ensure 24-hour power supply and help improve grid stability.
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne said its "cutting-edge engineering experience" was the key to developing a long-term heat storage, 24-hour distribution system. Randy Parsley, Pratt & Whitney's director of renewable energy and project manager, said: "With this tower, the temperature can be raised to 1050F, whereas with the collector unit, it may only reach about 750F."
"It is this difference in the peak temperature of molten salts that brings huge economic benefits, which can make the thermal storage capacity of molten salts up to four times the original capacity." When the molten salt heat storage technology is combined with the collector technology, the additional cost of changing the heat exchange medium from oil to salt is also involved.
Solar Research promises to achieve a highly controllable energy supply, with 95% energy availability and 100% allocation, with an annual power supply of 500,000 MWh, much higher than GemaSolar's 110,000 MWh supply capacity.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Energy Program will continue to promote the innovation of CSP technology and identify the high-temperature operation performance of collectors and dry-cooling technology as important development goals. The program provides about $50 million or more annually to about 40 companies and universities involved in CSP technology research.