New research shines a light on the potential for small scale concentrated solar power

The Carbon Trust has completed new research for DECC on the potential to accelerate the deployment of small-scale concentrated solar power (CSP).

The Carbon Trust has completed new research for DECC which investigates the potential to accelerate the deployment of small-scale concentrated solar power (CSP) in various developing countries, with a focus on industrial process heat and rural on/off-grid applications.

The research concluded that there is substantial growth potential in the use of small-scale CSP for industrial process heat, with a potential increase in global deployment from c. 25MW today to 63GW in 2050 - growth by a factor of 2,500 - and growth potential in Africa and Latin America of as much as a factor of 4,600 from now to 2050. Small-scale CSP can be deployed in a wide range of potential industrial applications and sectors.

James Rawlins, Associate Director and author of the report commented:

"Small-scale concentrated solar power has major potential for a number of niche markets in developing countries, such as industrial heat. However, to date this potential has not yet been realised bar some interesting developments in India, by far the leading global market. With further demonstration to leverage this Indian experience we believe the technology could play an important role in providing low carbon energy and economic development in Latin America and Africa."

The research also identified the key barriers for industrial applications: low awareness that CSP is a potential energy source for industrial process heat, lack of confidence that the technology works in local conditions and applications, and payback periods that are considered unattractive by potential customers. For rural / off-grid applications the critical barrier is the lack of an optimised and proven technology solution.

To overcome the barriers the research recommended that a programme of demonstration projects, operating across a group of 3-4 countries, that leveraged Indian experience and best practice would have a transformational effect on the uptake of small-scale CSP technologies.

Notes to editors

The research was undertaken for the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department for International Development, to inform the design of a possible intervention. The report identifies the main barriers and market failures; it reviews relevant previous experience of demonstration and deployment of small-scale CSP; and it assesses delivery mechanisms for an intervention to scale-up deployment of these CSP applications.

The project covered a number of low carbon development priority countries across three regions: India, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Within those regions, India, Kenya and Chile were chosen for detailed research. For the purposes of this research, small-scale was defined as 100kW up to 2MW, and all relevant CSP technology types were included.

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