Concentrated solar thermal
ARENA issued a Request for Information (RFI) to test the market for CST projects on 25 May 2017. The RFI process was designed to examine the potential for a possible program supporting the deployment of CST systems in Australia.
Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) power systems use mirrored concentrators to provide heat for power generation using steam turbines and synchronous generators. Most recent systems incorporate 3 to 15 hours of thermal energy storage. At the beginning of 2017, there was 5GWe of generating capacity in around 100 utility scale CST power plants around the world operating on a commercial basis.
CST systems are also used in industrial sites for direct supply of process heat to reduce reliance on gas and diesel boilers.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) issued a Request for Information (RFI)1 to test the market for CST projects on 25 May 2017. The RFI process was designed to examine the potential for a possible program supporting the deployment of CST systems in Australia. The RFI process called for responses by 31 July 2017.
The result was:
- 31 responses building on experience from every significant CST system globally.
- Directly expressed and implied interest in involvement in CST deployment in Australia.
- Universally positive views on the future of CST.
- All responses referred to the key advantage of cost effective, integrated thermal energy storage and the characteristics of dispatchable generation via synchronous generators.
- A clear indication that a large scale competitive CST process in Australia would be well subscribed
Respondents included large companies who have been instrumental in the global CST industry over the past decade, plus small companies developing new technology approaches, as well as some key industry associations and others. In addition to Australian based companies, responses were received from Spain, USA, Germany, Italy, India and Chile. While a few responses are brief, most include an impressive level of detail and represent a significant effort, indicative of the interest in Australia as a future market.
Overall, the combined global experience in CST is well represented with the total sector experience of respondents in excess of the total existing installed capacity, reflecting that respondents have in many cases been involved in the same projects in different roles.