I am asked in many forums about the delays and cost over-runs of solar thermal power plants, and how we have chosen to play in this field.
Lets understand the differences:
1. Solar Thermal Power plants deliver electrical power – produce steam using sun, and produce electricity by running a power turbine using the steam. Solar heaters that we deliver directly deliver heated water into process heating systems. The sunshine is converted to heat, and used as heat energy. In Solar Thermal Power, sunshine is collected as heat, and then converted to electricity.
2. The technology that we use (ETC – Evacuated Tube Collectors) has a worldwide installation base of 175 GW. (64.6% of thw total worldwide installed base of solar heaters of 269. GW). This is comparable to 142 GW of solar power installations worldwide. and 3.65 GW of solar thermal power plants worldwide. Contrary to popular belief, solar heaters are HUGE and has been proven for decades.
3. Solar thermal power plants are based on optical concentrators, and the concentrating technology is relatively new, not yet fully proven. ETC collectors have been around for more than 3 decades. (Take an extract from session called brief history. We need to make our own version of history, not from here. You can learn more about ETC Collectors here. ETC is certainly a mature technology whereas concentrating solar is a relatively new field, yet to prove its mettle, while holding a lot of promise.
~Bhoo, CEO, Aspiration Cleantech Ventures