Dispatchable solar; the kind of solar that can operate on demand at any time day or night saw prices tumble to astonishing new lows in 2017. From a starting point of 31 cents per kWh in 2006 – this year, four new bids broke low price records culminating in 6 cents.
Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), also known as Solar Thermal Energy (STE) is now routinely bid to include thermal energy storage (TES) which enables it to ship power on demand like a natural gas power plant, making thermal solar the “dispatchable” solar – CSP-TES.
Because of its inherent ability to store energy thermally, CSP is a dispatchable solar can be turned on whenever it is needed, at any time, day or night. (How CSP Thermal Energy Storage Works)
The price records for dispatchable solar broken this year:
TuNur proposed shipping solar from Tunisia at 10 cents/kWh
In May, Dubai’s DEWA received a solar bid at just 9.4 cents/kWh.
In September, DEWA awarded a new low contract for solar at just 7.3 cents/kWh
In August, SolarReserve won a solar contract at 6.1 cents/kWh.
This kind of drop in price is astonishing for an innovative technology that has barely started. While more are in development, so far there is only a handful of solar thermal energy plants operating worldwide that include the thermal energy storage that makes this kind of solar dispatchable any time, unlike solar PV.
NREL has the full list of CSP projects around the world – with or without thermal energy storage – and under development as well as already in operation.
CSP’s price drop to now the world’s cheapest night-time solar power is following a trajectory like that of the other clean energy innovations.
First wind dropped in price onshore, then solar PV prices. Now, following Bloomberg reports, the Financial Times notes that also offshore wind prices are also tumbling.
The similar CSP price drop has yet to be widely noted, however.