CSP technology advances crucial for cutting costs in South Africa

With some of the highest levels of Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) in the world, CSP is positioned to play an immense role in South Africa's energy landscape. Currently, four CSP technologies are being promoted internationally, parabolic trough, power tower, fresnel and dish stirling, but with the la

With the rapid price decline of photvoltaics and the continued backing for coal powered generation, CSP costs will need to decline to compete in South Africa, but currently there are insufficient installations to clearly establish long-term cost curves for each technology. Ultimately, choosing technologies for optimum efficiency versus cost ratio is crucial for developers to demonstrate the bankability of CSP to lenders in this region.

At present, parabolic trough technology, the most developed worldwide, appears to be a popular choice for developers in South Africa with two projects under-development, one developed by Abengoa and the other a consortium led by ACWA Power, amounting to 150MW. A recent report by CSP Today indicated the capital cost of parabolic trough plants is one of the most restrictive characteristics of this technology accounting for 40-45% of the total lifetime cost. In addition the need to increase trough-operating temperatures to improve efficiency is a key focus for the industry.

As well as parabolic trough is the continued growth in the deployment of power tower technologies. The advantage of this design above parabolic trough is the higher operating temperatures, and consequently higher efficiencies. Abengoa's Khi Solar One project, a 50 MW commercial solar tower under development in South Africa, is expected to come online in 2014 and will undoubtedly pave the way for further growth in the solar tower project pipeline.

In order to explore each technology further CSP Today has invited leading technology providers to share the new innovations that will result in systems becoming more cost-effective, at CSP Today South Africa 2013 on 4-5 February in Pretoria. It was confirmed this week that RiPASSO Energy, currently developing a Dish Stirling demonstration plant in Uppington, will demonstrate the performance potential of this technology at the event next year. Joining RiPASSO Energy are leading developers and technology providers including BrightSource, Torresol Energy, Abengoa, Alstom and AREVA who will be on hand to share their work in optimizing performance and reducing costs for parabolic trough, power tower and fresnel applications.

The event is set to take place on 4-5 February in Pretoria, with over 250 leading stakeholders in attendance. For more details about the technology focused sessions go to the website: www.csptoday.com/southafrica

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Jack Ahearne
CSP Today

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