Concentrating Solar Power FOA from the U.S. DOE

On May 24, 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Program released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for companies to develop storage solutions, manufacturing approaches, and new system concepts for large-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) plants.

This FOA is divided into three areas: (1) thermal storage; (2) trough component manufacturing; and (3) advanced CSP systems and/or components. The objective of the thermal storage topic area is to develop low cost, high temperature storage that enables trough technology to reach its 2020 cost goal. To achieve this goal, storage cost of less than $15/kWh thermal is desired with round trip efficiencies at or greater than 93%. The objectives of the trough component manufacturing topic area are to lower the cost of major components of a trough system and to establish manufacturing capability in the United States. The objective of advanced system/component development is to identify CSP concepts that can generate low cost power (under 7¢/kWh) with storage (12-17 hours) by 2020.

Applicants can propose either an entire system or focus on a component of a CSP system. In either case the objective is to identify and develop new approaches that could dramatically lower the cost of CSP.

The FOA anticipates three phases of effort: concept feasibility, prototype development, and field validation with a “go/no-go” decision at the end of each phase. DOE is providing $5M toward the FOA in FY07 with an additional $5M planned for FY08. These funds will be sufficient to cover all of Phase 1, and will allow several successful projects to begin Phase 2 activities.

In the U.S. Southwest, which has more than a dozen of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country, CSP technologies are one of the most attractive renewable energy options for large-scale power generation. The collaborative public-private partnerships established herein will work to reduce the nominal levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of CSP power plants from 13-17 cents per kilowatt-hour (¢/kWh) in 2007 to a target of 7-10¢/kWh by 2015, and to 5-7¢/kWh by 2020. DOE estimates that satisfaction of these cost targets could lead to installation of 16,000 to 35,000 MW of new generating capacity by 2030.

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