Concentrating Solar Power
New U.S. concentrating solar power (CSP) facilities have been added in three of the last four years following 15 years of inactivity. Three new CSP facilities came online in 2009, the 5-MWac Sierra SunTower from eSolar, the 2-MWac Holaniku trough from Sopogy, and the 5-MWac Kimberlina linear Fresnel system from AREVA Solar (formerly Ausra). The Sierra SunTower is the first power tower operating in the U.S. in a decade and Holaniku is the first CSP facility to come online in Hawaii.
In 2009, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced two initiatives to speed the development of solar energy on public lands. First, four Renewable Energy Coordination Offices were established across the west (in California, Nevada, Wyoming and Arizona), along with renewable energy teams in five other offices. Second, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) identified 14 solar energy projects that were in position to qualify for ARRA-related funding, if permitted, during 2010. BLM and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have focused their resources on getting these â€œfast-trackâ€ projects through the permitting process so they can commence construction by December 31, 2010.
The U.S. now has 432 MW of operational CSP plants in commercial production (as of March 2010), making it the world leader in installed CSP, and more plants are on the way. Several projects are expected to come online before the end of the year, and many additional projects will begin construction before the end of December and meet the deadline to qualify for the 30-percent Treasury grant.