Enel Green Power (EGP) is to continue the diversification of its energy portfolio by building two concentrated solar power (CSP) plants in southern Europe.
The first of these developments, a 30MW standalone parabolic-trough plant, will be in Sicily, Italy, while the second, a 25MW system linked to a water desalination project, is to be located in a yet-to-be-identified Mediterranean country, according to Sauro Pasini, the head of engineering and innovation research at Italian utility Enel.
Until recently, the majority of EGP’s 6.2GW renewable portfolio was been made up of wind (44%) and hydro (41%) projects, with solar accounting for less than 2%. However, this looks set to change, with the two CSP plants being the latest sign that the company is looking to establish itself as a prominent figure in Italy’s solar industry; last week Enel opened a 160MW thin-film module manufacturing facility in Sicily alongside co-owners Sharp and STMicroelectronics.
EGP’s decision to invest in CSP represents a significant vote of confidence for the fledgling technology, which has come under scrutiny from some industry analysts who feel rapid price declines for PV components may soon make it uncompetitive.
Yet unperturbed by the question marks surrounding its future, several developers have moved ahead with CSP ventures, including Torresol’s 19.9MW Gemasolar project in Spain, which recently become the first plant to feed an uninterrupted 24-hour supply of electricity into the grid.