Chris Goodall suggests in the ecologist website that the UK might use solar thermal to provide baseload power…
Despite its high capital cost, attention is increasingly directed towards ‘Concentrating Solar Power’ (CSP), a technology that uses focused light to heat a liquidÂ that turns to steam and drives generators.
Better than baseload – CSP’s dynamic response
The huge advantage of this approach is that energy can be stored in the form of very hot fluids and turned to electricity in the night hours.
People have been dreaming of putting CSP in the Sahara for decades. The ideas have come to nothing. But now interest from commercial and experienced investors is rising.Â This week I spoke to the backers of a large potential CSP plant in the Tunisian desert, Kevin Sara and Daniel Rich of Nur Energie.
The ‘TuNur’ project intends to collect energy from thousands of reflective heliostats around a central tower. The approach was pioneered in Spain but is now deployed in several places around the world, including the 390 MW project at Ivanpah on the California / Nevada border (see photo).
So what do the finances of ventures like this look like? What are the obstacles to deployment? The full plan for the Tunisian project envisages a maximum of 2.5 GW of electricity generation. This scheme will occupy around 10,000 hectares (10 by 10 kilometres) and produce approximately 10 TWh a year (about 3% of UK annual consumption).