Global installed CSP costs drop 26% in 2018; Credit Suisse enters CSP ownership in Spain

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Installation and operational learnings are cutting CSP costs and raising capacity factors. (Image credit: Prognone)

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Global CSP costs drop 26% in 2018, capacity factors rise

The average levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of new CSP plants fell by 26% in $2018 to $185/MWh as developers implemented the latest technology and installation learnings, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), said in a new report.

Some 0.5 GW of new CSP plants were commissioned in 2018, predominantly in China, Morocco and South Africa. Installed costs ranged between $3,400/kW and $7,000/kW, depending on project location and storage duration, IRENA said.

Average CSP costs should fall further this year as a number of Chinese plants will come online at lower installed costs, IRENA said. Recent project tenders show that a "step change" in costs will occur in the next four years, placing costs consistently in the range of $60/MWh to $100/MWh, it said.

CSP developers are using design and installation learnings and economies of scale to lower CSP plant costs.

Last month, Morocco awarded the 800 MW CSP-PV Noor Midelt I project to an EDF-consortium at a record low price of $71/MWh. ACWA Power and partners are currently developing the 950 MW Noor Energy 1 CSP-PV project in Dubai at a price of $73/MWh.

Rising capacity factors are also helping to drive down CSP costs, IRENA noted.

The global weighted average capacity factor of CSP plants rose by six percentage points in 2018 to 45%, it said.

       Average CSP capacity factors by technology, storage duration

                                                         (Click image to enlarge)

Source: IRENA's 'Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018' report, May 2019.

Credit Suisse closes financing on 250 MW of CSP in Spain

Credit Suisse Energy Infrastructure Partners has completed the purchase of a 49% stake in 250 MW of Spanish CSP capacity from ContourGlobal, Credit Suisse announced May 22.

ContourGlobal, a UK-based power plant investment group, purchased the five 50 MW assets from Spain's Acciona last year. The plants are situated in south-west Spain and came online between 2009 and 2012.

Credit Suisse paid 134 million euros ($149.7 million) for the 49% stake, almost double the net investment made by ContourGlobal.

ContourGlobal will continue to manage, operate and maintain the assets.

The deal is the latest in a line of recent renewables acquisitions by Credit Suisse.

In October 2018, Credit Suisse acquired a 49% stake in ContourGlobal's 65 MW Italian PV portfolio and its 35 MW PV fleet in Slovakia. Credit Suisse will also hold an 80% stake in a new 470 MW wind farm planned in Sweden. Germany's E.ON will hold the remaining 20% equity.

Spain's minority Socialist government aims to double CSP capacity to 4.8 GW by 2025 and reach an installed capacity of 7.3 GW by 2030, according to a new 10-year energy plan set out by the government in February.

Since 2012, new CSP installations have slowed after the government introduced sales taxes and removed subsidies.

The government’s new plan, which will be reviewed by the European Commission (EC), would raise Spain's installed PV capacity from 8.4 GW in 2020 to 23.4 GW in 2025. Wind capacity would rise from 28.0 GW in 2020 to 40.3 GW in 2025.

                             Spain direct normal irradiance (DNI)

                                                        (Click image to enlarge)

Map source: Solargis

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