A report prepared on behalf of the Australian Solar Institute (ASI, for its acronym in English) has predicted that Australia can play an important role in the development of global solar concentration energy sector, and ensure a leading position in the global supply chain if incentives are provided to facilitate the implementation of CSP technology in the country.
The research proposed guidelines which suggested that Australia might reach 2 GW of CSP by 2020 and grow quickly to 10 GW by 2030. At that time, it would supply up to 10% of the energy demand of the country. The report also claimed that 15 GW could be installed in areas, not requiring large extensions of electric grid but with the potential to provide half of Australia”s energy needs by 2050.
Although proposing several estimates of concentrated solar power costs, the report shows that, overall, the average is 198 € / MWh. In addition, there is sufficient potential to reduce the cost to about half in a period ranging from 6 to 18 years depending on the pace that technology improvements are made and how they are implemented.
rnIn spite of a significant margin between the electricity wholesale cost in Australia and the price in its national electricity market (right now at a record low of about 28 € / MWh), the authors argue that the “time value” of an energy with the supply capacity of the CSP is greater than that of other technologies. This means that the difference between its costs and the costs of conventional will not be so wide.
AndrewWant,responsibleforthe Australian Solar Concentrated Power Association, who participated in the report along with the Clean Energy Council, the Australian Solar Energy Society, the CSIRO and the Boston Consulting Group, said the remaining cost gap could be closed in a few years. He explained that the the value of electricity on the report had been calculated based on several factors. These included the flexibility of the time of day, the supply capacity and performance of the grid.
“The CSP is a complementary technology, said Want. It can mitigate the ups and downs of the most variable generation and help
address the grid stability challenges resulting from the photovoltaic and wind capacity growth. Gas and diesel engines generation can also help stabilize the grid but, obviously, with the environmental fuel costs that the CSP does not involve. ”
Leading author Keith Lovegrove pointed out the Australian electricity market forecast for 2005-2010 showed an average price of 33 € / MWh, while the electricity from CSP plants would have reached an average of about 69 € / MWh due the upper value of its production. Even by only being supplied during off-peak periods, it would have accumulated a price 50% higher than the market average. In addition, due to its ability to provide energy supply capacity, it would have reached two or three times the market average.
“The future of energy is to adjust supply to demand at all times. Smart meters allow people to decide how to manage demand. People working in the energy supply business may also decide how to manage that. The CSP with storage fits well into this idea. ”
The report recommends a series of policy measures to ensure that funding is available for early implementation and the industry is optimistic that the planned Clean Energy Finance Corporation, (a type of green bank with 10 billion dollars at their disposal ), survives the anticipated change of government after the elections scheduled for next year.
The report also recommends the creation of enclosures for solar and CSP, and that Australia uses its considerable R & D experience while focusing on the implementation of systems under 50 MW, an industry that, it says, the global industry has overlooked.
The study also suggests projects incorporating energy storage to improve their performance and hybridization with fossil fuel plants along with the development of advanced cooling technologies, which fit well in areas such as Australia (and other areas with CSP potential), where usually shortage of water is present.
The report is just published when Silex Systems is preparing to unveil its first solar-concentrating photovoltaic technology demonstration plant in Bridgewater, Victoria. In addition, works on a 44 MW ” solar propeller” project are still underway at the Kogan Creek coal powered generator, where compact linear Fresnel reflector technology now owned by Areva is being used.
However, a neighbor project including the construction of a 250 MW plant under the Solar Flagships government program is still in the air. Areva and its partners have to secure financing of the project until the end of June, a deadline that has already been extended.