Challenges to Future Deployment

The widespread application of CSP plants is hindered by the heavy investment required for large centralized power plants - the economically viable plant size being on the order of several MW - and by the high ratio of risk to return for investors if long-term power purchase agreements are not in place.

Building a sustainable market for CSP will require taking the lessons learned in the countries where CSP deployment is successful and transferring them to others. This would promote faster market growth, attract larger global companies, and lead to costs that are increasingly competitive with conventional sources.10

Most of the technological components of solar thermal-power plant systems still need improvement. For example, higher operating temperatures and efficiencies will become possible in parabolic trough systems by using steam as a heat transfer medium and improved selective absorbers. Advanced storage systems will allow extended daily operation hours and improved plant utilizations. Technical components are already operational in principle, thereby making the development of appropriate support policies the crucial issue for the future of solar thermal power plants.

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