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13 Mar 2013 04:03:07

The progress of the SunShot Initiative examined at CSP Today USA 2013

CSP Today USA 2013 will host exclusive SunShot Initiative roundtables to share the latest R&D aimed at driving down CSP costs and optimizing system efficiency.

Since the U.S. Department of Energy launched its Sunshot Initiative in February 2011 the program has funded over 150 projects focused on the research and development of photovoltaic and concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies.

A key aim of these projects is to reduce the levelized cost of electricity generated from CSP to 6 cents/kWh or less, without any subsidies, by the year 2020.

To achieve the technical and economic targets of the program, research and development has focused on all four CSP technologies: parabolic trough, power tower, linear Fresnel and CSP dish engines.

However, recent commentary has argued that whilst the SunShot Initiative continues to make progress, there are still obstacles to take research from the laboratory to full scale commercialization.

Although the SunShot Initiative has taken significant steps to providing the necessary funds to drive cost and efficiency breakthroughs, the industry could face a challenge to find the adequate financing needed to take promising technologies from laboratory-scale prototypes to implementing the technology in the market on a larger scale.

In recent years, incentives such as the federal loan guarantee program, have resulted in a spike in solar funding in the United States. However, the current research on new materials, heat transfer fluids, thermal energy storage and coatings will need further capital to enable smooth progression of promising technologies from laboratory-scale prototype systems to pilot plants and demonstration units.

Without this additional investment those developing new technologies will not have the capital to implement the technology in the market, and to improve and adapt it over future technology generations. This could result in a high risk of failure for these new generation technologies that are crucial to meeting the targets set out in the SunShot program.

To demonstrate the progress made in the SunShot Initiative and to share the very latest innovations with financiers and policy makers, CSP Today have released details of the exclusive SunShot Initiative Roundtables that will take place at CSP Today USA 2013. Leading CSP companies, universities and research institutions will host the roundtables, with experts from BrightSource Energy, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Terrafore, Univeristy of Arizona, amongst others.

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