With 20 CSP projects in the first phase of China’s five-year plan, the world’s largest electricity producer and consumer paves the way for taking the driver seat of large-scale solar-thermal power generation. Though China’s well-established manufacturing capacity helps foster technology deployment, lack of CSP experience and technology know-how remains a challenge to successfully meet time and cost commitments.
International market-players are being consulted in order to share CSP experience from established markets and ultimately to help design plants that will meet low price levels and tight project deadlines. According to the plan, RMB1.15/kWh (around USD 16.55 cents) feed-in-tariffs (FiT) are confirmed for those projects that are completed and operational before the end of 2018.
“Reaching low FiT levels touches upon CAPEX, OPEX and performance issues. New markets, however, tend to mistakenly confuse low tariffs with reduced CAPEX levels as they lack operational experience. It is therefore essential that China recognizes long-term cost saving benefits of operational features when selecting technologies that they will commit to for the next 25-years”, suggests Jens Taggart Pelle, Vice President of Technical Sales, CSP Power Plant division of Aalborg CSP.
“Poor component quality naturally leads to operational failures, contributing to inevitable repair work and unwanted plant stoppages as a result. Mistakes should therefore be avoided in the earliest project development stages by placing high performance guarantees on component suppliers” – adds Mr. Pelle.
As the demonstration plants are expected to deliver about 1 GWe with 4-16 hour storage capacities, it is not surprising that molten salt tower and parabolic trough plants dominate the list due to the heat transfer media’s ability to achieve up to 565˚C degrees. This high-temperature benefit, however, also puts high demands on component reliability. CSP plants have a cyclic operational time, depending when the sun is able to power the plant. Therefore, there are frequent system starts and stops and these load changes cause variations in molten salt flow that the components are expected to seamlessly react on.
“The key to avoid operational headaches with molten salt plants is to ensure that equipment, that are in direct contact with the heat transfer media, support frequent load changes. Steam generators, for instance, therefore must be resistant to thermal stress as well as support easy draining to avoid molten salt crystallization. Aalborg CSP’s SGS4 steam generation system was designed to provide molten salt plants with high gradient performance. It also comes with an automatic venting feature and reduced amount of valves in order avoid operational risks and also to minimize CAPEX of the system” – explains Mr. Pelle.
Aalborg CSP will join the dialogue with China’s power sector at the CSP Focus 2017 conference in Beijing.
Source: Aalborg CSP