China to install 1.4 GW CSP capacity by 2018; South Africa backs Redstone PPA

Solar thermal news you need to know.

Image credit: Koccai NG

China targets 20 CSP plants by 2018

China is to complete its first batch of 20 CSP projects by 2018, China's National Energy Administration (NEA) said September 14.

The plants represent a total capacity of 1.4 GW and will be concentrated in the provinces with the highest irradiation levels: Qinghai, Gansu, Hebei, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang.

The projects, which include 9 solar towers, 7 parabolic trough plants and 4 Linear Fresnel plants, will receive a Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) of RMB 1.15/kWh ($0.22/kWh). The FiT price will be re-examined and adjusted after 2019 based on industry developments.

Increasing confidence in China’s FiT plans supported a wave of new project proposals from international firms looking to optimize supply chain opportunities.

Over the last year, U.S. developers SolarReserve, BrightSource Energy, and 247Solar, as well as Sweden’s Cleanergy, Germany’s FRENELL, and Israel’s Ener-T, have all announced they will participate in China’s CSP program.

South Africa's Eskom to sign Redstone power contract

State utility Eskom continues to back solar power projects under South Africa's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Program (REIPPPP) and intends to sign the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for ACWA Power and SolarReserve's 100 MW Redstone Solar Thermal Power Project despite delays, Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe told The National newspaper.

Eskom would pay, in total, an estimated 50 billion rand ($3.6 billion) for the 20-year Redstone PPA and the utility postponed the signing of the PPA due to conditions precedent not being met, it said in a statement July 28.

"Contrary to some media reports, Eskom has not decided to put on hold any renewable energy contracts," Phasiwe told The National September 15.

"In fact we have signed power purchase agreements with all successful bidders and we’re committed to signing all the remaining contracts under the current bid window 4.5 of the [REIPPPP]," Phasiwe said.

South Africa has seen a rapid expansion in renewable energy capacity since it launched the REIPPPP in 2011.

The REIPPPP has thus far procured 3.4 GW of wind, 2.4 GW of PV and 400 MW of CSP. The Northern Cape province in the north-west hosts 65% of the procured solar PV capacity and 100% of CSP projects.

To date, Eskom has contracted for 3.9 GW of renewable capacity, of which 2.1 GW has been connected to the grid, it said in July.

Faced with ongoing financial difficulties, Eskom has not matched the expansion in renewable energy capacity with necessary strengthening of the power grid, particularly in the sun-drenched Northern Cape, where PV capacity has soared.

Researchers aim to cut water usage by 70%

A four year research project involving 11 partners from Europe and Morocco aims to reduce water consumption for CSP plants by 70% without compromising system efficiency, Germany's DLR Institute of Solar Research, a project member, said in a statement September 7.

The research project will develop innovative measures to reduce water consumption in the turbine cycle and mirror cleaning process, typically the two major water consumption areas in a solar thermal plant, the DLR institute said.

Research is being carried out in areas such as anti-soiling techniques and dry cooling systems which can reduce water consumption by up to 90%, the research group said.

The research program includes agencies from France, Spain, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Czech Republic and Morocco.

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