Via Electric Light & Power
Solar Steam Augmentation: A Sensible Alternative to PV
by John Robbins
After years of being poised for rapid growth, the opportunities for concentrated solar power (CSP) are multiplying fast. Analysts expect that over the next decade there will be a 20-fold increase in CSP generation, with several factors driving the increased interest.
Some solar power producers are benefitting because solar’s cost is better understood. Traditionally measured cost of solar power production has decreased, but analysts are increasingly factoring in volatile fuel prices, impact to the grid and the environmental costs of such things as land use, water use and fossil fuel emissions.
CSP offers tremendous opportunities for local industrial development in a fragile economy. Many solar steam generators are made with standard materials and can be rapidly deployed using low-cost, locally-sourced manufacturing processes and materials.
Tucson Electric Power (TEP) has a booster project slated to go online in early 2014, a partnership with AREVA Solar that will provide a 5 MW solar addition to TEP’s gas and coal-fired, 400 MW H. Wilson Sundt Generating Station in Tucson. The project will allow Sundt’s dual-fueled Unit 4 to reliably produce an additional 5 MW or the same amount of electricity during peak daylight periods, while reducing the use of up to 3,600 tons of coal per year or up to 46 million cubic feet of natural gas.