Solar Thermal Technology is a relatively new renewable energy technology. Unlike the more mainstream solar PV technology, CSP hasn’t gone mainstream yet. This is partly due to cost, as Solar Thermal Technology is still relatively expensive when looking at kWp implementation cost. Also, CSP plants (Concentrated Solar Power) are generally utility sized.
There are different variations of CSP plants, however, but all follow the same process of using solar energy captured by a receiver to produce steam that is then used to drive a turbine. The real advantage of solar thermal plants is that they can also include thermal storage systems to store energy and continue producing power during peak evening times. It is expected that by 2020 there will be 20GW of CSP capacity installed globally, with an annual growth rate of 20%. Here, we look at the Top 8 Solar Thermal Companies, Technology Providers, and Project Developers.
BrightSource Energy is a US-based Solar Thermal startup that focuses on the design, development and deployment of solar thermal power plants globally. Their technology was used in the largest CSP plant in the world, situated in Ivanpah, CA.
A 377 MW system that went live in 2013, the system produces enough power for 140,000 California homes during peak hours. Other projects that are in construction phase are a 121 MW system in Israel and a 135 MW CSP plant with energy storage in China.
Agengoa Solar is a Spanish company that is not truly considered to be a startup, considering that they were already researching and developing solar thermal technology in the 1980s. Abengoa Solar is involved in the design, manufacture and marketing of key components for solar facilities, which are used either for its own or third-party plants.
The vast majority of their CSP plants operate in Spain and South Africa, with one plant in Chile and the UAE. In Spain all their CSP plants have a combined capacity of 492 MW.
Siemens is the largest green technology company in the world, although they are a new kid on the block when it comes to Solar Thermal technology. However, they are experienced in designing and developing steam boilers and turbine generators for CSP plants.
They have since delved into other CSP components, such as the design and development of parabolic troughs, central towers, and linear Fresnel concentrated solar power plants and hybrid plants.
Acciona is a Spanish company with a global presence and an engineering history dating back to the 1880’s. Their core businesses are infrastructure and renewable energy. Acciona Energy works with five renewable energy technologies, namely wind, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, hydroelectric and biomass.
With over 8 913 MW of installed capacity, they have their own technology for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of CSP plants, with 314 MW in operation across six thermosolar plants (five in Spain, and one in the US).
Solar Reserve is a global developer in utility scale solar power projects. They specialize in both Solar PV and Solar Thermal Plants, with over 482 MW of capacity installed as well as another massive 13 GW in the pipeline. The company also holds over 100 patents relating to CSP technology.
They have several operational CSP plants in the US, Chile and South Africa, ranging in size from 100 MW to 200 MW. Their CSP technology uses salt as a thermal energy storage solution, thereby still providing clean electricity when the sun goes down.
Trivelli Energia is a leading micro solar thermal technology company in Italy and Europe. They design and develop micro CSP plants used for process heating and cooling. In Europe, 70% of energy consumed in industry is heat.
Most of this heat is below 482 Fahrenheit, making CSP technology an ideal solution by providing clean, free and reliable heating from the sun!
Abros Green is a German-based company that develops Solar PV and CSP project implementations internationally. They develop CSP plants that can be used in conjunction with fossil fuels such as natural gas, biomass or coal fired plants.
These systems are known as Integrated Solar Combined Cycle Systems. The steam generated by the CSP plant can be injected into the coal plant or natural gas turbine thereby improving the efficiency of the system.
Torresol Energy was founded in 2007 and is based in Spain. Torresol Energy designs, develops and implements CSP projects. Torresol Energy claims to be the first to use salt as a thermal energy solution in their 17 MW Gemasolar plant located in Spain.
The plant consists of two 650 Heliosats over a space of 195 hectares. The plant’s thermal energy storage system provides power generation autonomy for up to 15 hours without sunlight. They also have two other CSP plants in Spain with a capacity of 50 MW.