World’s largest CSP project achieves financial closure; US announces $33mn CSP funding

Our pick of the latest solar thermal news you need to know.

ACWA Power's earlier 150 MW Noor Ouarzazate III (Noor III) central tower plant under construction in Morocco. (Image credit: Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen)).

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Record-breaking Dubai CSP project completes financing

Dubai Electricity Water Authority (DEWA), Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power and China's Silk Road Fund have reached financial closure on the 950 MW Noor Energy 1 CSP-PV project in Dubai, the partners announced March 24.

The $4.4 billion Noor Energy 1 project is the world's largest single CSP project and will include three 200 MW parabolic trough plant systems, a 100 MW central tower plant, and 250 MW of PV capacity.

A flurry of recent supply deals has signalled accelerating construction activity at the site.

The CSP tower will have a height of 260 meters and the concrete base has now been completed, DEWA said April 1. Shanghai Electric, the lead EPC contractor, has also signed contracts with Dow Industrial Solutions for the supply of heat transfer fluids (HTFs), according to reports.

DEWA awarded the Noor Energy 1 project in 2017 at a record-low tariff of $73/MWh.

The cost of Noor Energy 1 will be met by around $2.9 billion of debt and $1.5 billion of equity.

DEWA is to provide $750 million, half of the project equity. Of the remaining half, ACWA Power will provide 51% and China's Silk Road Fund 49%.

The lenders include Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, China Everbright Bank, China Minsheng Bank, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Commercial Bank International, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Natixis, Standard Chartered Bank and Union National Bank, the equity partners said in a statement.

"In addition, Bank of China, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Emirates NBD Bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Mashreq bank and Union National Bank have provided long-term loans," the companies said.

                  Levelized cost of parabolic trough plants by segment

                                                           (Click image to enlarge)

Source: International Renewable Energy Agency, 2016

US allocates $33 million to cost-cutting CSP research

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is to provide $33 million to projects which lower the cost of CSP plants as part of a new $130 million solar funding program.

Funding will be provided to projects which help to achieve DOE's 2030 cost of energy target of $50/MWh for CSP plants with at least 12 hours of thermal energy storage (TES), the department said March 26.

"This research includes new materials and technologies that significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing, enable new energy storage technologies and develop solutions that enable a solar field to operate autonomously," it said.

Developers see new project opportunities for CSP with storage in the coming years as costs fall and rising renewable capacity increases the need for dispatchable night-time power.

A key area of research is high temperature CSP plants which will increase efficiency and lower costs.

U.S. CSP tower developer SolarReserve has also started a three-year project to develop and test next generation heliostat designs.

SolarReserve will work with U.S. and South African research teams to improve the control and automation, structural performance and power consumption of heliostats, David Haas, Director of Heliostat Development at SolarReserve, told New Energy Update.

The research could reduce heliostat costs by 40%, through lower installation and staffing costs, and higher energy yield, he said.

Other areas of progress include advanced CSP dispatch software which combines algorithms with probabilistic forecasting to optimize real-time plant operations.

New Energy Update