In the last 15 days the US government made two announcements regarding the promotion of concentrating solar (CSP) technologies. Yesterday at the MENA Power conference in Cairo, the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) announced three grants for feasibility studies regarding CSP projects in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
The Egyptian CSP project by Taqa Arabia is a 250MW project in Upper Egypt that intends to use tower technology, while the grant for Jordan will develop a well defined implementation plan for an eSolar facility. The objective of the feasibility study in Lebanon is to assess CSP technologies (trough, fresnel, tower and stirling) to determine the most appropriate technology for the proposed site. The 50MW project is located in the Byblos region and intends to sell power directly to an industrial estate.
The announcement of the feasibility study grants for three projects in the MENA region follows the announcement by the Department of Energy (DOE) on May 11th awarding $62 million in research and development funds to 13 different American CSP technologies. The three largest grants went to eSolar, Abengoa and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. Rocketdyne licenses its CSP technolgy to California based SolarReserve.
The 13 CSP projects chosen by DOE for funding are intended to improve component and system designs to extend plant operation to an average of about 18 hours per day, which would make it possible for these plants to displace coal-burning power plants, according to the DOE.