Solar Thermal Deserves Our Support

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Here’s a good article on a recently completed solar thermal tower (aka concentrated solar power or CSP) in the desert between Las Vegas and Reno, NV.

The thing to like about solar thermal, as we’ve often discussed here, is that it affords us a fairly low-cost way of storing energy and delivering it when the sun isn’t shining. This is due to fact that in today’s world, we can store heat energy (in vats of molten salt) far less expensively than we can store electrical energy (in batteries). Thus solar thermal installations can be treated as baseload, delivering power on a consistent 24X7 basis.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that they’re still expensive – the neighborhood of $5 – $7 per Watt.

Yet those of us who favor solar thermal believe that costs will fall dramatically as these technologies mature. Solar thermal is really in its infancy, lagging several decades behind photovoltaics (PV) and wind in terms of its development. The plummeting cost of PV (to about $1 per Watt) wouldn’t have happened in a million years without the support of an enormous number of public and private agencies. I’m among those who hopes that solar thermal will be given the same chance.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.