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Solar FAQs — Concentrating Solar Power — Financial Considerations

Q: Are concentrating solar power technologies viable in today's energy markets? If so, where are the best market opportunities?

A:  Trough systems are commercially available and in use today. However, because of the very low cost of today's fossil fuels, they cannot yet compete on a cost-of-electricity basis with fossil-based systems,. A favorable financing arrangement—one likely to be stimulated by green power markets—could enable parabolic troughs to begin to play a role in the marketplace, however. And as global demand for clean energy sources rises, trough systems will become more financially attractive.

The long-term success of all the concentrating solar power technologies—including dish/engines, which are still in the demonstration phase—depends on continued technological progress. It also depends on an increasing desire for, and commitment to, clean energy. With some of the best direct normal solar resources anywhere on Earth, our nation's southwestern states are poised to reap large—though as yet largely uncaptured—economic benefits from this important natural resource. Several states are already taking advantage of this opportunity. California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico are all exploring policies that will nurture the development of their solar industries.

In addition to the CSP projects under way in this country, projects are being developed internationally using GEF grants. South Africa, Israel, Iran, and Jordan are also evaluating project opportunities. And independent power producers are beginning to design and develop parabolic trough power projects in Greece and in Spain. If CSP deployment in one or more of these initial markets is successful, many additional project opportunities are expected in these and several other regions.

Other Resources: 

U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585
www.eere.energy.gov www.energy.gov