Concentrated solar power (CSP) is a good solution for many parts of Africa, says Simon Lude, Research Engineer for the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, who spoke to us at the recent African Utility Week conference.
Lude points to the similar climatic conditions that Africa shares with Arab countries and explains that the solar potential and large spaces are ideal for the establishment of concentrated solar power plants.
The Fraunhofer Institute has just completed its research of concentrated solar power in Kuwait where they were able to generate 1200MW of solar power. Lude explains that concentrated solar power provides the opportunity to shift energy production towards the times when it is needed most.
Concentrated solar power storage generally uses the two-tank multi-storage system to store excess generated power. The tanks are filled with molten salt which is heated by solar. The high temperatures result in thermal energy. This is the most commercially viable storage solution for concentrated solar power to date, says Lude.
Costs will come down
Although concentrated solar power is more costly than photovoltaics, Lude says that the systems will become more cost-effective and efficient in the near future. He explains, “Costs will come down but probably not at the same rate as photovoltaics due to its make-up.
Through more efficient production technologies and maintenance costs, concentrated solar power prices will come down eventually. Concentrated solar power can be attained on demand. This is unlike photovoltaics. Therefore, concentrated solar power will be more costly than photovoltaics.”
Markets are seeing the benefits and countries like Spain, the US, Chile, Kuwait and South Africa are snapping up concentrated solar power.