If solar is the world’s most plentiful source of energy, it could be argued that the practical implications of solar technology should be equally limitless. While the effectiveness of solar power has so far been mostly realized in the domain of rooftop photovoltaic cells, concentrated solar is a growing viable alternative that ratchets up the resource to the utility-scale level. One company in Germany has taken that concept, if not full circle, then at least a few notches back down to a smaller scale.
In October, Cologne-based company, protarget AG, announced the successful trial of its demonstration plant in nearby Bad Aibling, Germany. The plant represents the company’s quest to develop a low-cost, turnkey concentrated solar power (CSP) plant.
The concept offers an alternative to the typical CSP facility, which usually requires major financing and no small amount of space for huge fields of reflecting mirrors.
With the turnkey plant, CSP will now be accessible in regions and countries where the typical setup is less affordable.
The company achieved its goal of lowering costs through a technology transfer with the German Aerospace Center and by adopting a standardized manufacturing process modeled after the auto industry. This cuts the investment costs per megawatt (MW) of installed capacity by 30 percent, compared to conventional solar power. The plant is designed for small to medium applications from 1 to 20 MW. Plants can be constructed in six months or less by protarget engineers and handed over on a turnkey basis.
The company plans to build similar plants in other sunny areas, primarily in the Arab region and the Mediterranean.