Crescent Dunes plant, the global biggest tower molten salt CSP project, has been put into operation. Based on this successful case and focuse the coming explosive China CSP market, SolarReserve plans to develop several CSP plants at the level of 100MW. Recently, on the subject of SolarReserve’s plan and development in Chinese market, CSPPLAZA reporter interviewed Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve .


CSPPLAZA:You mentioned the plan to overseas media to develop 1000MW solar power plant in China, could you introduce this particular plan in details? How is this plan going currently?

Kevin Smith:As you are aware, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) has proposed 10 GW of CSP by 2020, starting with 1 GW of demonstration projects from 2016-2017. What SolarReserve has told reporters, is that the company anticipates participating with Chinese partners in multiple projects as part of this 10 GW rollout. Anticipated project size for these individual projects will be similar to Crescent Dunes’ 110 MWs. We are looking at larger facilities as well, in the 150MW range, and we are in discussions with potential partners that could develop multiple towers.


Photo: Kevin Smith 

CSPPLAZA: China FIT policy is about to be public recently, What’s the plan of SolarReserve on how to speed up the development of Chinese market? Will SolarReserve set up branches in China? Which means will be used to expand business in China?

Kevin Smith: SolarReserve has been active in China’s renewable energy market since 2011 and welcomes a CSP specific FiT. SolarReserve plans to pursue the China CSP market opportunity through a SolarReserve China subsidiary that will supply key equipment to projects both in China and also for export globally, provide development and technical services to projects in China, and invest equity in China projects.

The strategy for the China market will benefit both international and Chinese projects/markets, to include: enhancing international deployment of SolarReserve’s proven technology; achieving the economic benefits of cost reduction that accompany scale; helping China address severe environmental pollution issues and climate change commitments while creating a new domestic renewable sector; and establishing a platform for cross border capital deployment.


Photo: Crescent dunes plant

CSPPLAZA:It is estimated FITof china demonstration project is lower than 1.20 Yuan. If the technology of SolarReserve is applied into this project in China, could you predict how much the cost per kwh is? Can you accept the FIT lower than 1.20 Yuan ?

Kevin Smith:We noticed in an article that you had written ( you mentioned the goal of RMB1 ($0.15) per kWh. SolarReserve is confident that it has the most cost effective CSP technology and has proven this in both the United States and South Africa. Lower than 1.2 Yuan should be attainable in the near term with a significantly lower FIT coming with scale.

A key to SolarReserve’s continued success is the advancement in technology/power plant performance and decreased capital costs. SolarReserve firmly believes that capital cost reduction will result from increased deployment in projects around the world and that China will contribute significantly to such scale.

CSPPLAZA:What are advantages of SolarReserve’s technology?

Kevin Smith:SolarReserve’s CSP tower technology with integral energy storage provides both energy generation as well as bulk energy storage at a price competitive with new-build coal and nuclear generation (in correspondence with environmental cost). SolarReserve’s technology enables solar to operate as baseload generation, and deliver power into peak demand periods; operating at a capacity factor and availability percentage equal to that of coal fired power plants.

The inherent energy storage of SolarReserve’s molten salt tower technology results in double the annual MWh of comparably sized solar facilities (i.e., PV, CSP trough, and CSP direct steam). CSP trough technology and direct steam towers, either with or without energy storage, will not be economically competitive in high DNI regions of Western China. This is due to the fact that unlike parabolic trough and direct steam tower technology, SolarReserve’s technology requires zero fossil fuel for augmenting or stabilizing operations, either day or night.

SolarReserve’s technology has the added benefit of being able to absorb excess grid power in our molten salt system. This will mitigate the solar and wind curtailment events currently happening in China, allowing those projects to continue operating while enabling SR projects to shift output to times of even greater need.