CSP technologies offer great potential to meet global and national goals for clean, secure and affordable energy. The MENA region has some of the world’s best solar energy resources, with a great potential for CSP power, because the technology uses both light and heat from the sun. Heat from MENA’s abundant sunshine has much greater comparative advantage than just the light. The technology to store heat improves with every project and the costs come down, meaning that soon CSP may be able to provide inexpensive solar energy 24/7 throughout the year. This means that each dollar invested in CSP will generate more energy than in other regions. Global costs of CSP will drop faster if CSP is deployed at scale in MENA. Both the region and the entire world stand to benefit.
The World Bank, with support from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) launched a Knowledge and Innovation Programme in late 2016. This three-year programme is designed primarily as a resource to address knowledge and awareness gaps; to link projects with sources of finance and technical advice; and to promote innovation to enable CSP investments in MENA to move forward faster, and in more countries. The knowledge generated in MENA could also facilitate CSP investments elsewhere in the world, creating a virtuous circle of CSP investments and cost reductions through global economies of scale and learning.
CSP technologies are dropping in price thanks to technology improvements, economies of scale and growing markets. Storing heat is also much cheaper than storing electricity, so CSP may soon be able to provide more competitive dispatchable energy and other power system services. This would have major implications for the choice of power generation technology and the management of power systems in countries with good solar resources. In addition, it would have major implications for the world and the global target of combating climate change. This is why CSP receives concessional financial support.
Article published in: FuturENERGY March 2017