The Future of CSP Is Bright
June 6, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Ramm and John Woolard
Since its founding in 2006, BrightSource has significantly evolved – from a small start-up with a great idea that became the foundation for the world’s largest solar thermal power project – to a company focused on global deployment of its solar field technology and support services. We wanted to share some details of that evolution, along with our views toward the future.
Our proprietary technology concentrates the sun’s energy to produce high-value steam to power electricity, petroleum and industrial process markets. To successfully bring this new technology to market, BrightSource self-developed projects in the U.S. Today, BrightSource has established itself as a leading provider of solar field technology. Our 29 megawatts thermal Chevron/BrightSource Solar-to-Steam Demonstration Facility in Coalinga, Calif. has been in operation for nearly a year and continues to exceed its performance targets. The 377 MW (net) Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, built in partnership with NRG and Google in California’s Mojave Desert, is nearing completion and on track to be fully operational by the end of the year. When complete, Ivanpah will be the largest solar thermal facility in the world.
As our technology is validated at increasingly greater scale, BrightSource is evolving from being a U.S. project developer to becoming a global technology provider that also offers development support as well as engineering and operational services. The strategic development partnerships we have formed with Alstom and Abengoa further underscore this transition as well as the accelerated adoption of our technology.
As use of renewable electricity increases worldwide, there are major planning challenges associated with moving to a fleet that includes large amounts of variable resources, such as wind and photovoltaics (PV). BrightSource’s technology helps utilities and grid operators address integration challenges by delivering a firmer, more reliable and more controllable renewable power source.
The ability to flexibly dispatch power when it is most needed is highly valued, especially as regulators evaluate the cost of renewable energy projects and include costs associated with integration, permitting and transmission. For example, a recent NREL report analyzed the value of concentrated solar power (CSP) with storage in a California 33% renewable scenario and concluded that due to its flexibility in dispatching power to the grid, the value of CSP with storage in a high-renewables penetration scenario in 2020 is $32/MWh to $40/MWh higher than the value of a PV plant. It is clear that CSP can make significant contributions to our global clean energy, climate and economic goals.
Globally, we are seeing tremendous interest for CSP, especially in hybrid and storage applications. We estimate the global market for CSP to be approximately 30 gigawatts by 2020. International markets with significant future CSP growth include the Americas, China, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and South Africa. As we actively pursue international markets, we will continue to align with partners to emphasize our role as a provider of best-in-class technology and related services into projects that are developed, financed and owned by others. These projects will likely include solar electric (both with and without storage) and enhanced oil recovery projects, as well as other industrial applications seeking high quality and renewably generated steam. Partnering with world-class companies enables BrightSource to meet demand for our technology faster and more cost-effectively.
BrightSource has accomplished a tremendous amount over the last seven years. We are committed to work together as a team as we advance the company’s technology, expand our geographic scope, and transition to a new CEO over the next few months. As the company readies for its next stage of growth, we look forward to harnessing the sun’s limitless potential to meet the world’s clean energy needs one project at a time.
H. David Ramm, Executive Chairman
John Woolard, Member of the Board of Directors