According to a joint statement from the companies, the Concentrating Solar Power Alliance (CSPA) will strive to educate decision-makers about the unique benefits of CSP technology and of thermal energy storage as a foundational resource for a reliable, low-carbon electricity mix and a driver of economic growth.
Tex Wilkins, a veteran of US Department of Energy Solar Program, has been tapped to lead the new effort.
“Concentrating solar power technology is the only renewable resource that is capable of harnessing the world’s most abundant fuel source – the sun – to produce reliable, cost-effective, and dispatchable electricity,” said Wilkins, who will serve as the alliance's executive director. “We believe CSP, with the ability to dispatch electricity when it is needed, is critical in meeting the energy challenges facing the United States and the world.”
The Alliance’s mission is to promote the increased acceptance, adoption and implementation of concentrating solar power plants in the United States. The Alliance will also promote policies to encourage and advance CSP technology deployment.
The first commercial CSP plants in the US were built in California in the mid-1980’s and are operating today with a higher output than when they were new, the alliance said.
There are currently over 500 MW of CSP plants operating in the US and more than 1,300 MW of CSP plants under construction nationally, with many gigawatts more under development.
Felicia Bellows, Senior Vice President of Development at Torresol Energy in the US, said, “With this new alliance we expect to promote solar thermal energy as a sustainable source of power and therefore contribute to the protection of the environment for the future generations.”
“From Torresol Energy, we keep working in order to reduce the costs of this clean energy, in order to make it an economically competitive option to traditional sources,” Bellows continued. “We are working in new innovations, such as a single-tank storage system or a new generation of high power central tower plants with molten salt receiver technology. We are definitely following the path established last year with the commercial operation of the innovative plant Gemasolar, the first commercial plant in the world with a central tower molten salt receiver.”
A study commissioned by the US National Renewable Energy Lab for the Department of Energy found that a single, 100 MW CSP plant creates more than $600 million in impact to gross state output, ten times that of a combined cycle fossil plant due to the local content and job creation.
Worldwide, more than 1 GW of CSP is in operation.
The International Energy Agency estimates that CSP projects now in development or under construction in more than a dozen countries (including China, India, Morocco, Spain and the United States) total 15 GW.
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