Technology Roadmap: Concentrating Solar Power
Release Date: 11 May 2010
Concentrating solar thermal power and fuels will be part of the energy technology revolution necessary to mitigate climate change while ensuring affordable energy supply. The ETP BLUE Map scenario, which assessed strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by half in 2050, concluded that CSP will provide several percent of the necessary emissions reductions to achieve stabilisation in the most cost-effective manner. CSP requires strong sunshine and clear skies. Thanks to its thermal storage and hybridisation possibilities, CSP provides firm and dispatchable electricity.
- By 2050, with appropriate support, CSP could provide 11.3% of global electricity, with 9.6% from solar power and 1.7% from backup fuels (fossil fuels or biomass).
- In the sunniest countries, CSP can be expected to become a competitive source of bulk power in peak and intermediate loads by 2020, and of base-load power by 2025 to 2030.
- The possibility of integrated thermal storage is an important feature of CSP plants, and virtually all of them have fuel-power backup capacity. Thus, CSP offers firm, flexible electrical production capacity to utilities and grid operators while also enabling effective management of a greater share of variable energy from other renewable sources (e.g. photovoltaic and wind power).
- This roadmap envisions North America as the largest producing and consuming region for CSP electricity, followed by Africa (as producer), Europe (as consumer), India and the Middle East. Northern Africa has the potential to be a large exporter (mainly to Europe) as its higher solar resource largely compensates for the additional cost of long transmission lines.
- . Given the arid/semi-arid nature of environments that are well-suited for CSP, a key challenge is accessing the cooling water needed for CSP plants. Dry or hybrid dry/wet cooling can be used in areas with limited water resources.
- The main limitation to expansion of CSP plants is not the availability of areas suitable for power production, but the distance between these areas and many large consumption centres. This roadmap examines technologies that address this challenge through efficient, long-distance electricity transportation.
- CSP can also produce significant amounts of high-temperature heat for industrial processes. Also, CSP facilities could begin providing competitive solar-only or solar-enhanced gaseous or liquid fuels by 2030. By 2050, CSP could produce enough solar hydrogen to displace 3% of global natural gas consumption, and nearly 3% of the global consumption of liquid fuels.
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