Is CST ready for prime time?

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Moderators: Probir Ghosh, Dr. Rajan Kapur, Dr. John Barnes

Is CST ready for prime time?

Postby Probir Ghosh » Fri Apr 24, 2009 3:37 pm

Question to anyone with knowledge in this area:
There has been a flurry of activities in CST deals with utilities, while it is true that there has been some CST installed in fairly large scale in the sunbelts of USA in the early 90’s, there have not been any new large scale installs with updated technologies.
Are these deals done because their cost/W is lower than what flat plat PV companies are offering for large scale installs?
Or is it because CST holds promise for reasonable energy storage buffer at a reasonable cost and PV or CPV option do not?
Or is it simply because the CST companies had acceptable PPA contracts and Utilites are closing deals to take advantage of ITCs? (Since none of the CST companies are in the black as yet.)
Or is there something else that I am missing?
Probir Ghosh
 
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Re: Is CST ready for prime time?

Postby Dr. John Barnes » Fri Apr 24, 2009 3:55 pm

Probir asks:
“Are these deals done because their cost/W is lower than what flat plat PV companies are offering for large scale installs?” LCOE calculations for a CST farm with present pricing shows a lower number than for a PV farm, and the area efficiency is better. For instance Ausra states that their parabolic trough design would serve the energy needs of the US with a 92 square mile farm in the SW. Of course Ausra has given up in financing the farms themselves in this ecomonic climate. The LCOE is about $0.13 /kWh now and all CST technology companies/farms have viable plans to push that below $0.09 /kWh in a couple of years as their manufacturing ramps up. The LCOE for a MW PV installation is suspected to be about $0.17 /kWh now (could be less) with the squeeze in profit margins happening now.

Or is it because CST holds promise for reasonable energy storage buffer at a reasonable cost and PV or CPV option do not? This night time storage capibility is also a very positive attribute for CST. I seem to remember a recent news note of ~24 hour proven energy generation from a plant in Europe being exclaimed as an attribute of a CST farm.

While it is true that new technologyCST farms in the US have been stalled since the spring of 2008, the start of approvals is underway again. In Europe Abengoa, and Ausra have, I believe started installation of large CST farms in 2008.

One of the leaders BrightSource states for instance “The company entered into
two of the largest solar power purchasing agreements in the world – a 1,300 MW deal with Southern California Edison and a 900 MW deal with PG&E.” The approval process is long and arduous; however, and 3 or so years has been needed to get building started. In a related article published in the Mercury News it was stated that 5 CST farms were in the approval process for the CA PUC, at present.
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