If you are remotely involved in solar energy, you must have heard about concentrated solar power. The technique to generate electricity using mirrors to concentrate the sunrays. The core principle behind this technique is similar to magnifying glass experiment only on a larger scale. This energy is used in several applications including heating fluids such as oil and water to produce steam, which is used to drive turbines and generate electricity.
The sizes and shapes of the mirror are essential for the method. Moreover, sun-tracking methods enable generating heat around the clock. The demand for concentrated solar power has increased over the last few years as it offers a carbon-free way to generate electricity and is ideal for regions such as the Middle East, Northern Africa, Southern Europe, and part of India, China, and Australia.
Current concentrated solar power market scenario:
When it comes to solar power, photovoltaic solar panels are widely popular for electricity generation. However, the surge in competition in the photovoltaic solar panel industry resulted in down costs and eventually driven manufacturers out of business. On the other hand, concentrated solar power remains the less-talked-about technology that has gained international attention.
According to Allied Market Research, the global concentrated solar power market is estimated to reach $8.04 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 10.3% from 2019 to 2026. The rise in demand for renewable energy and increase in need for solar energy from emerging economies are the prime factors that drive the growth of the global industry.
The prime advantage of a concentrated solar power plant is that it offers grid-friendly and easily dispatchable electricity. This means manufacturers can quickly meet their demand as they can store large amounts of heat using molten salt technology. What's more, with concentrated solar power, there is no need for additional backup fuel to run the plant during the night.
Involvement of world leaders in the market:
The concentrated solar power gained the spotlight when major market players announced not only their interest but also business investments in the industry. For instance, Heliogen, a well-known clean energy startup backed by Bill Gates recently announced its involvement in a concentrated solar project in the Mojave Desert.
In supporting carbon-free energy generation, Heliogen has launched several concentrated solar power plants. the company has deployed solar technology in California, developing the first concentrated solar technology to power a mine in the U.S. The company used artificial intelligence (AI) and around 40,000 computer-vision-controlled mirrors to optimally harness the power of the sun. The system in California will be the size of around 100 football fields.
Saudi Arabia to start solar power revolution:
The region of Saudi Arabia has been an ideal spot for concentrated solar power plants. Saudi Arabia is adopting the new, more efficient way to harness solar power to generated electricity and has inspired several developers to build the world's largest renewable energy project.
The concentrated solar power plant at Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai has decided to the part of the project and quickly became a buzzword in the renewable energy industry, due to its potential to store heat and meet the energy demands at night.
However, the carbon-free nature of concentrated solar power is not the only reason behind the project. The international tariff on concentrated solar power is considerably lower compared to conventional energy. What's more, the cost for this technology is as low as 7.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, making it one of the cheapest sources of energy production. The project located 50km south of Dubai is expected to complete by 2030, making Saudi Arabia the prime market player in the concentrated solar power industry.