U.S. utilities set to procure CSP in 2014

The California Public Utilities Commission’s recent 1.3GW storage mandate to be fulfilled by the states 3 major utilities by 2020 has led to utilities across the nation putting procurement plans in place to avoid being caught out by a wholesale federal roll out of similar legislation.

While much of the early research has been focused on the technological development of utility scale batteries utilities are also having to prepare for the possibility that there is no technological breakthrough. North America market researcher at CSP Today Marco Geraghty said that, ‘As it stands CSP is the only proven utility scale storage technology available to utilities and we are seeing an increasing amount of them seeking to secure PPA’s which will give them dispatchable capabilities’.

Due to the nature of the roll out of Renewable Portfolio Standards the majority of current investment has been funnelled into Wind and PV plants. However the recent shift away from a purely power focused approach towards an approach which is more sustainable for the grid capabilities means that CSP’s storage value has become a priority for utilities. Major South-Western utilities PG&E, SCE, APS and NV Energy all hold PPAs for CSP while SMUD are developing their own hybrid plant as part of a DOE initiative.

CSP’s previously high cost had been a barrier to utility interest. Currently CSP’s LCOE is at $0.22/kWh whilst PV’s is at $0.12kWh – however PV’s advantage is set to diminish as a result of the high temperature gains which have been made as a result of the President Kennedy inspired Sunshot Initiative. Geraghty also added that, “Leading EPCs estimate a 15% drop in cost for each cumulative doubling of capacity, they fully expect each project to be cheaper than the last leading to a dramatically reduced LCOE”.

At CSP Today USA 2014 (5-6, June Las Vegas) the Solar Electric Power Association will be moderating a utility panel consisting of PG&E, SDG&E, APS, NV Energy and SMUD as they address their future plans for CSP integration. If you want to learn more about CSP Today USA 2014 then please visit http://csptoday.com/usa/

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CSP Today is the reference point for CSP professionals and a cornerstone for communications within the industry. We provide business intelligence to the industry with focused news, events, reports, updates and information for the Concentrated Solar Thermal Power industry in markets such as India, South Africa, Spain, USA, Chile and the MENA region.