New GTM Research report examines concentrating solar power technology, costs, and markets

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GTM Research has published a new report that specifically looks at the concentrating solar power (CSP) market and presents the strengths and weaknesses it has found for four major technologies: parabolic trough, power tower, dish and linear Fresnel reflector. The report, entitled, “Concentrating Solar Power 2011: Technology, Costs and Markets” remarks that between 2011 and 2013 the CSP market is expected to see growth between US$3 and US$10 billion. However, after 2013, GTM Research predicts that the CSP market may fall upon tougher times.

GTM Research’s report notes that installations in the CSP market are anticipated to reach 472MW during 2011 and over 1,200MW in 2012. However, as solar PV, according to the report, is able to trim down its installed cost faster than CSP, the market may see a downturn.

“Paradoxically, CSP is simultaneously experiencing unprecedented growth and facing extinction,” said Brett Prior, author of the report and senior analyst at GTM Research. “Certain projects announced in 2007 to 2009, with signed utility contracts in-hand, are finally securing financing, breaking ground and will eventually become the largest solar plants the world has ever seen. However, the future of the industry is at risk due to the dramatic decline in PV panel costs, which is compelling utilities to select lower-cost PV over CSP for future solar plants, thereby pushing the CSP industry toward potential obsolescence.”

The report goes on to claim that CSP project costs will fall between 3% and 7% per year from 2010 through 2020. Nonetheless, PV costs will also continue to fall through 2020 and maintain a cost advantage over CSP.

“The trend of CSP projects being converted into PV projects is a troubling one,” Prior states. “In order to turn the tide, CSP developers need either to improve their cost per kWh against PV or to convince utilities to pay extra for storage and dispatchable generation. Barring one of these outcomes, the long-term future for CSP is bleak.”
More information on the report can be found here.

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