The Concentrated Solar Thermal Technologies Implementation Working Group (IWG) was set up in April-May 2016 as a temporary implementation group. This IWG brought together stakeholders, the European Commission and SET Plan countries to discuss the ambitious initiative of the European CSP industry becoming a global leader in its field.
As a result, they adopted an implementation plan, which collects the outcomes of its work, including targets and actions, and its main recommendations.
With the European Green Deal, the European Commission intends to address European citizens’ wealth and health, increasing the EU’s contribution to fighting climate change while boosting its economy.
Therefore, the primary role of the European CSP industry is to help fight climate change. It brings solutions that are available immediately for decarbonising energy systems, while opening a wide range of business opportunities and creating sustainable jobs – which are central to a green recovery for Europe.
The decarbonisation challenge applies to 3 sectors:
- cooling and transport.
Currently, electricity appears to be the relatively easier-to-reach target, while heat and, in particular, transport face complex challenges and it will take more time and effort for their targets to be reached. However, smart integration of concentrated solar thermal technologies in energy policies will result in innovative multi-technology solutions having a positive impact on the 3 sectors mentioned above.
Targets and objective
Through thermal energy storage, CSP [also defined as solar thermal electricity (STE)] can significantly help transform Europe’s energy system by ensuring it has an essential share of dispatchable renewable electricity. By providing flexibility for grid services, CSP can help integrate variable renewables, such as photovoltaic (PV) or wind energy, into the energy system. This helps make the transmission grid more reliable.
To remain a global leader, the European industry needs to stay ahead with more advanced, competitive technologies. Other countries are stepping up technology and commercial efforts in CSP, all targeting the same global markets as the European industry.
Furthermore, it is crucial that innovation (i.e. new technologies reaching the market) takes place in Europe to maintain the investors' and promoters' confidence in European CSP technologies. In Europe, there has been a clear failure in introducing new CSP technologies to the market, e.g. when trying to move from demonstration to a first-of-a-kind commercial-scale plant technology.
1. Short-term: > 40% cost reduction by 2020 (from 2013) translating into:
Supply price* < €0.10/kWh for a radiation of 2050 kWh/m2/year (conditions in Southern Europe)
2. Longer-term: develop the next generation of CSP/STE technology
New cycles (including supercritical ones) with a first demonstrator by 2020 that aims to achieve additional cost reductions and opening new business opportunities.
Many CSP research & innovation projects have been funded under European and national programmes to carry out the implementation plan's actions.
Further work is needed to reach the objectives set for demo projects which allow innovative solutions to be tested - the first of a kind (FOAK) projects. The IWG is working on identifying appropriate European and national mechanisms that allow demo plants to be put into operation.
The IWG is currently revising its implementation plan targets and activities, taking into account the new political context and achievements since its launch in 2017.
An analysis is being carried out to widen CSP technologies’ applications and include R&I actions focused on solar industrial heat processes and alternative solar fuels.
* The supply price is meant to be the targeted price within power purchase agreements lasting 25 years.
Spain is chairing this IWG. Its members include representatives of the following countries:
|Participating SET Plan countries|
Other active members: research centres, funding agencies, industrial associations and academia, including European Solar Thermal Electricity Association (ESTELA), Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), EREA, DLR, Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT), European Association of Gas and Steam Turbine Manufacturers (EUTurbines), University of Évora, and the University of Cyprus.