- U.S. company SolarReserve just inked an agreement with China's Shenua Group to develop 1,000 MW of new concentrating solar power capacity, citing stalled development in the U.S. as the catatyst, MIT Technology Review reports. China has a goal to build 10,000 MW of CSP by 2020.
- The technology has faltered in the U.S. marketplace due to the lower cost of solar power plants and utility-scale wind.
- China lacks access to low-cost natural gas, the news outlet reports, making CSP potentially a viable technology in the country, with 16 such plants planned or under construction currently.
Concentrating solar power was once hailed as the new "generation of solar power," according to MIT Technology Review, but environmental concerns over impacts to bird populations slowed the growth, as well as the high cost of the electrical generation in the U.S. But such concerns don't appear to have dented China's enthusiasim for the technology.
There are three CSP projects to date in the U.S., including the embattled Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California. The other two are the 280 MW Solana project that sends electricity to Arizona utility Arizona Public Service (APS) and the 110 MW Crescent Dunes solar project sending generation to NV Energy in Nevada.
The Ivanpah plant especially came under scrutiny after nearly defaulting on its power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric earlier this year. Southern California Edison also has a PPA with the Ivanpah plant developers.
The biggest problem facing the plant at the time, aside from the bird issues, was increasing its generation to fulfill the contracts in time.
Even so, the threat of default throws doubt on the project's future, Bloomberg said. The plant's builder, BrightSource, told energy officials in 2011 that its cash position was "precarious" and that the plant's failure will be a black mark against the White House, Bloomberg reported.
But now, these solar developers hope China’s massive build-out will lead to economies of scale that will resolve their biggest challenge: cost.