It is rare for an innovation in Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) to go from the lab to commercial in just 5 years. The biggest obstacle to advancing potential cost-cutting improvements in novel CSP technologies is getting them deployed in commercial projects. Risks are high when every CSP plant must be built at utility-scale and must make money right away.
Researchers in labs around the world are innovating improved CSP technologies to supply dispatchable solar power day or night at lower costs, or to make solar fuels, or to supply industrial heat. But few innovations get deployed in a risk-averse environment. Yet, when efficiency improvements can be included in new plants, they can potentially increase efficiency and so cut costs for all that follow.
The SolarPACES award-winning Stellio heliostat design for the 50 MW Hami tower CSP project in China has achieved this feat. (In tower CSP, thousands of heliostats – or mirrors – focus and concentrate sunlight on a tower receiver to generate heat for energy use in making power or as direct heat for thermochemistry or industrial processes.)