Solar Power » Industry

Value Chain Activity: Concentrated Solar Thermal

Due to the size and complexity of concentrated solar thermal plants, many of the components are built on-site. While there are a number of manufacturers of components such as collectors, mirrors and heat transfer fluid, the heart of the industry beats in the system integration activity where the facilities are constructed. And it is the turnkey solution providers that promote certain technologies and indeed design them.

Strategic Partnerships

Some technology integrators maintain strategic partnerships with

  • Suppliers: of components they do not produce themselves
  • Owners of coal- and gas-fired power plants: to plan integration of the CST plant into the combined cycle plant or to add to an existing coal capacity,
  • Offtaker: The ultimate customers are utility companies or independent electricity generators.


Companies in Concentrated Solar Thermal


Strategic Map of CST Companies

Strategic Positions

There are four main technologies in different stages of maturity. Parabolic troughs have been developed in SEGS (in California) since the 1980s, and most of the installed capacity is of that technology. There are still newcomers in this segment (e.g. SkyFuel), but the main crux of the technology is proven.

The second most mature technology is the use of a central receiver (power tower), which has already a commercial production in Spain with Abengoa Solar.

The other technologies, Linear Fresnel and Dish Engine are much more recent with installed capacity well under 10MW. The challenge for those new technologies is not just to have a good technology, but to accelerate the learning curve to ramp up production to sizeable levels. Signs are encouraging, at least for the central receiver technology with huge investments by Masdar (into Torresol) for instance.

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