U.S. has more sun but Europe has more solar power...for now

Courtesy EER.A new study of the Concentrated Solar Power industry shows Europe to be far ahead, with major growth in the U.

Courtesy EER.

A new study of the Concentrated Solar Power industry shows Europe to be far ahead, with major growth in the U.S. a couple years away. Emerging Energy Research found several reasons for the growth on Concenrtated Solar Power...but first a brief explanation. CSP uses reflectors to focus the sun's energy, like using a hand magnifier to set paper on fire like you did when you were ten years old. Except this concentrated solar heat is focused on enclosed pipes containing oil or water that becomes steam. These superhot fluids are used to then drive turbines that generate electricity. In the CSP system the oil or water is reused. There are no by-products, no CO2. This goes a long way toward meeting Kyoto Protocol targets for co-operating nations in Europe and elsewhere.

The US ignores Kyoto so it lags in CSP even though the USA has more solar energy available than Europe, as you cen see from this NASA map I blogged recently. Besides the US, Australia and Africa have prime places to capture solar energy.

Who Are The Players?

EER found many companies active in wind power are moving into CSP as well. Of the top twenty corporations in CSP twelve are based in Europe. Here are the top players right now in the US: Abengoa Solar, Solel Solar Systems,Stirling Energy Systems, Acciona Solar Power, FPL Energy, Bethel Energy, Inland Energy, BrightSource Energy, Ausra, Inc., SkyFuel.

Leaders right now in the European CSP sector are: Abengoa Solar, Sener, Ausra, Inc. EDP, Neo Energía, Acciona Solar, Endesa, Enel SpA, EECH, Epuron (Conergy), Ener-T Global, Grupo Enhol, Novatec, SAMCA, Albiasa Solar, Solar Millennium, Solar Power Group, Solel (Pasch y CIA S.A.), Iberdrola. I am too lazy to give you links to each of these corproate sites. Just google 'em. (I don't capitalize "google" when it's a verb and not a competitor to MSFT.)

EER Conclusions:

Here's are some key points in EER's study of CSP tech: "Fossil fuel [price] volatility and climate change issues will bolster the renewables market over the coming decade, fostering solar CSP build-out."

Europe's solar hot spot is the Iberian Peninsula where the sun actually shines. "The Spanish market growth will be slow and steady over the next decade; US market growth will take place closer to 2012–2015." Sonje of those deals have already been cut like this one Heather recently blogged involving AUSRA.

On the tech side of CSP thre critical issue will continue to be: thermal storage.

On the investment and VC front: "The industry will begin to consolidate over the next five years with leading IPPs and utilities acquiring assets."

Here are the top three owners of CSP assets as of the latest available stats used by EER: Fortress Investment Group, FPL Energy and Acciona Solar.

In short it looks like a hot future for solar heat in the CSP industry.

Chips are chips in Silicon Valley

And there's a mainstream media look at how numerous Silicon Valley players are looking at solar tech as just anogther application of chip technology. Can it be that Moore's Law will apply to chips for making sun energy into electricity? The world eagerly awaits the outcome. Could this be the new new thing?