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Direct Solar Energy

Chapter 3

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PV System Price [USD


Europe Maximum Europe Minimum USA Maximum USA Average USA Minimum Japan Average




0 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010

Figure 3.18 | Installed cost of PV systems smaller than 100 kWp in Europe, Japan and the USA. Data sources: Urbschat et al. (2002); Jäger-Waldau (2005);Wiser et al. (2009); Bundes- verband Solarwirtschaft e.V. (2010); SEIA (2010a,b).

and 5 to 7 US cents2005/kWh for utilities (US DOE, 2008). All of these cost targets are just below what seems to be possible to achieve for projects of similar type realized around 2008 even under very optimistic conditions (see Figure 3.19 as well as Annex III). Given continued cost reductions in the near term, these cost targets appear to be well within reach for projects that can be realized under favourable conditions. Relatively more progress will be required, however, to allow achieving such costs on a broader scale.

The total investment for the nine plants comprising the Solar Electric Generating Station (SEGS) in California was USD2005 1.18 billion, and con- struction and associated costs for the Nevada Solar One plant amounted to 245 million (USD2005, assumed 2007 base).

The publicized investment costs of CSP plants are often confused when compared with other renewable sources, because varying lev- els of integrated thermal storage increase the investment, but also improve the annual output and capacity factor of the plant.


Concentrating solar power electricity generation

Concentrating solar power electricity systems are a complex technology operating in a complex resource and financial environment, so many fac- tors affect the LCOE (Gordon, 2001). A study for the World Bank (World Bank Global Environment Facility Program, 2006) suggested four phases of cost reduction for CSP technology and forecast that cost competitive- ness with non-renewable fuel could be reached by 2025. Figure 3.20 shows that cost reductions for CSP technologies are expected to come from plant economies of scale, reducing costs of components through material improvements and mass production, and implementing higher-efficiency processes and technologies.

The two main parameters that influence the solar capacity factor of a CSP plant are the solar irradiation and the amount of stor- age or the availability of a gas-fired boiler as an auxiliary heater, for example, the SEGS plants in California (Fernández-García et al., 2010). In case of solar-only CSP plants, the capacity factor is directly related to the available solar irradiation. With storage, the capacity factor could in theory be increased to 100%; however, this is not an economic option and trough plants are now designed for 6 to 7.5 hours of storage and a capacity factor of 36 to 41% (see Section 3.3.4). Tower plants, with their higher temperatures, can charge and store molten salt more efficiently, and projects designed for up to


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