The major factors driving the Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) market are the durability that it offers, cost-efficiency, its ability to cut down on the greenhouse gas emissions. Few other factors such as the growing concern of increased global temperatures among multiple nations, diminishing reserves of conventional energy resources also drive the market of CSP. Thus, the increased use of technologies associated to the CSP are used drastically all over the world which reduces the concern of increased temperatures and energy reserves and also boosts the growth of the overall CSP market. The CSP market is emerging at a fast pace. The energy costs are expected to diminish since increased number of suppliers will come into the market. The CSP market is segmented by geography to provide a complete view. Areas appropriate for CSP can be found between 15-40 degree parallels and sometimes at higher altitudes. Spain has the maximum number of plants currently built and operated and a huge number of plants are planned to be built. The electricity production is majorly dependent on the solar radiation. We find the best solar radiation of Europe, in Spain with 2,000 – 2,100 kWh/m2 per annum. Europe is projected to dominate the CSP market in terms of new projects, number of installation and usage. However, the economic downturn in Europe can negatively affect the progress of the CSP market.
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In North America, the U.S. is the leading player of the CSP market. Spain and the U.S. together contribute to 90% of the total CSP market. The installed capacities of CSPs worldwide is around 1 gigawatt (GW) and projects under development and construction surpasses 15 GW. Since the CSP technology is utilized to its maximum in countries having abundant land availability and outstanding solar radiation, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is projected to be the ideal market to expand the CSP development in the near future. Similar trend is noted in China and India. Few companies are trying to gain approval for a number of plants in Italy even though they face a strong local and political resistance. Since the CSP technology functions best with high insolation, places like Africa, Mexico and southwest United States is projected to have the highest growth. There are four key technologies which include Parabolic Trough, Solar Tower, Linear Fresnel and Dish Sterling. Among these, Parabolic Troughs focus the solar radiation to a reflector and is the most matured technology and is extensively utilized in the commercial power plants. It is estimated to witness the highest growth rate in the forecast period. Linear fresnel system and dish sterling is similar to parabolic troughs. Fresnel focus the solar radiation onto an elevated inverted linear receiver. It is hypothetically a low cost alternative to parabolic troughs for producing solar heat. Power towers use a field of tracking mirrors known as heliostats which reflect the solar radiation to a centrally located tower. Dish Sterling directly generates electricity without producing steam. A substantial number of industrial and commercial power plants are implementing dish sterling technology for the commencement of pilot project and demos. They key players in the CSP market includes NextEra Energy Resources, BrightSource Energy, Inc., GDF SUEZ, LLC, Abengoa Solar S.A. and Ibereolica Group.
Since huge number of companies are using CSP technology, there is an increased need to reduce the water consumption associated with it. The methods for the reducing water usage is once-through cooling, recirculating evaporative cooling and dry cooling. In the once-through cooling system, enormous volumes of water, over 24,000 gal/MWh, are withdrawn from a pool of water and is restored back to that pool at higher temperature. This, in turn, causes more water to evaporate thereby reducing the water consumption. This method is limited in use for new thermoelectric power plants centered with the probable aquatic environmental effect of such systems. Recirculating evaporative cooling is the most common form of cooling. This is a better, cost-effective and high performing power plant cooling technique. In the recirculating evaporative cooling method, lesser water, around 500-600 gal/MWh is withdrawn from a similar water body but majority of the water is used up through evaporation directly. This is most commonly used in parabolic trough power plants. Dry cooling is predominant in the new power plants as it uses very little amount of water. It releases the waste heat into the air and a significant difference in temperature is vital for the ample heat exchange. This type of water reduction method is more expensive and cause reduced plant thermal efficiency, specifically on hot days and in hot climates. Overall, the concentrated solar power industry has a significant scope in reducing the cost with future innovations and has growth opportunities in numerous countries with high solar radiation.
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