August 8th, several high-rank officials from CNEA and EPPEI openly comment on current progress of China’s first batch of CSP demonstration projects and give suggestions to speed up installation. Chinese government expresses concern on the behind-schedule projects, yet shows full support to building and completing CSP industry in China. Officials declare that the goal of Chinese 20 Demonstration projects is not simply installing CSP plants, but also to build a completed CSP industrial chain.

Half of the first batch of Demonstration Projects are behind schedule.

“According to our investigation, three CSP demonstration projects are currently in overall construction and has big chance to operate before December 31st, 2018. ” Yi Yuechun, Deputy Director-General of HydroChina Corporation said in the 3rd China CST Conference in Dunhuang, August 8th.

Since February 2017, HydroChina Corporation has been investigating the construction progress of 20 demonstration projects under the requirements of China National Energy Administration(CNEA). Back then, all demonstration projects completed filing and almost half of them accomplished the subjects such as connection to power system, water consumption, land

August 7th, an enclosed meeting is held to further investigate current CSP projects situation following CNEA’s requirement toward Electric Power Planning & Engineering Institute (EPPEI) and CNSTE Alliance to look into the latest 20 CSP demonstration projects’ progress one by one on August 2nd ~ 3rd.


image: The investigation report shows three CSP demonstration projects are currently in overall construction

Five projects are in site formation and moving to project start preparation. They are: Jingfan Energy Aksay 50MW molten salt parabolic trough CSP project, Dacheng Dunhuang 50MW molten salt Fresnel CSP project, Yumen Xinneng 50MW molten salt Beam-down tower CSP project, CNNC Royal Tech Urat 100MW parabolic trough CSP project, Huaqiang Zhaoyang Zhangjiakou 50MW Fresnel CSP project.

These five are most likely enter overall construction in the near future and can still meet with the scheduled operation date in late 2018.

Apart form the above 8 projects, the remaining 12 demonstration projects are now preparing for biddings, yet need to speed up to construction to operate in the end of 2018.

Four Obstacles in Development

Chinese first batch of CSP projects are facing with four main obstacles which result in unexpected behind-schedule situation, said Yi Yuechun on August 8th.

Obstacle 1 : poorly managed preliminary work

Not all developers of the 20 CSP demonstration projects started implementation of preliminary work as early as it should be. Thus some of them are encountering with uncompleted subjects such as power system connection, environment effect censorship, water pollution monitoring, land use approval, etc.

Typical difficulties include:

i. Category of the land force developers to change project location. E.g., some projects’ location in their early planning are actually meadowland, forest, or military controlled area where no power stations are allowed to allocate. Moreover, negotiation of location changing and land leasing prolong preliminary development time and enlarge total cost.

ii. Some documents about land use need to be approved by both State Forestry Administration and Ministry of Land and Resources, which takes longer to proceed.

iii. Environment effect censorship on power station requires strict fire prevention and corrosion prevention.

iv. Process of connection to grid is complicating.

v. Several local governments lacks of knowledge of CSP projects, which inevitably affects the whole installation.

Obstacle 2: financing difficulties.

i. Due to risk of new technology, lack of rules concerning new technology, uncertainty of electricity price, electric acceptance limits and subsidies concerns, financial institutions consider much more when financing CSP projects developed by private enterprises.

ii. State-owned enterprises are more cautious about new industry, and have stricter control over the yield, equity ratio and investment decisions, which results in slow pace of some projects.

Obstacle 3: technology to be accumulated and strengthened.

i. Few experience can be directly applied. The adaptation to China’s environmental conditions of foreign technical experience is to be verified; the construction design work is difficult. If the developer rushes just like others do in mature power projects, the quality can hardly be ensured.

ii. Bidding and calibration process of EPC and important equipments lasts too long. The equipment supply speed remains to be seen.

iii. Technical program optimization and commitment conditions of developers’ application for demonstrate projects need further study and implementation.

iv. The relevant standards of key equipment, technology, operation methods have to be settled to shorten communicating time.

Obstacle 4: other facts

i. The basic conditions and reasonable profits of CSP industry chain need to be protected. Using a lower price to tender shall be forbidden. We need to maintain a fair and open competitive environment, and resist the ultra-low-price bidding phenomenon which “exhausts oneself and starves others “.


image: CGN Delingha 50MW parabolic trough CSP demonstration project

Faith in CSP

In fact, final analysis shows that the emergence of these obstacle above is related to China’s immature CSP industry situation. Yi Yuechun pointed out that the first batch of demonstration projects needs to play a exemplary role:

I. Expand the scale of CSP industry. China aims to accumulate experience through the development and construction of the demonstration projects to lay foundations for the large-scale development of CSP on the next stage .

II. Support the development of thermal power generation enterprises. Through the construction of demonstration project, China will develop a number of powerful system integrators to meet the needs of thermal power generation industry development in the future.

The first batch of demonstration project is to enhance CSP technology, to build the ability of project development and construction, to promote system integration optimization and operation, to complete key equipment manufacturing chain, and to test policy support system as well. Thus, we can further optimize whole system and see a healthy and sustainable development of CSP industry. Some insiders said, “we need to face these difficulties and overcome them step by step instead of discouraging ourselves easily and sentencing CSP to death.”

Although solar thermal power generation is a brand-new technology for China, its unique advantages guarantee that this technology will embrace a bright future.
“As the CSP system is equipped with a thermal storage system, it can maintain a stable power output without being affected by changes of light intensity.” said Sun Rui, Vice President of the Electric Power Planning & Engineering Institute.

The system can achieve 24 hours continuous power generation with huge thermal storage capacity. Meanwhile, you can also make rapid adjustment of the output of the turbine generator according to the needs of the power grid load, that is, to participate in the Primary Frequency Modulation and Secondary Frequency Modulation of the grid. In addition, compared with the traditional coal – fired units, the start – up time of CSP units is shorter and the minimum operating load is lower.”

Sun Rui believes that CSP units in the power system is playing mainly two roles: First, it can bear the basic load as the main unit in the power system; second, as the power system in the peak load cell to bear the peak load ( but there is a principal that it cannot sacrifice the economy of CSP units).

At the same time, if the CSP units take the place of coal-fired units in the power system, it will reduce the minimum technology output of operating units in the grid, and increase the proportion of renewable energy power generation which is 1.5 times of thermal power installed capacity.


image: heliostat

Way-out for 20 CSP projects

Relevant departments figure out ways to overcome obstacles in the process of the demonstration projects.

On how to overcome various obstacles in the process of the demonstration projects and how to proceed to the next step, Yi Yuechun made three suggestions as follows:

I. Strengthen coordination and improve management

i. Take the demonstration projects as an opportunity to coordinate and overcome difficulties in the project implementation, promoting the development process of the demonstration projects. The enterprises first need to look after their own business and do their job. Commitments of the government and the power grid also need to be coordinated and implemented.

ii. Continue to accumulate experience in the projects’ construction, and promote implementation management system of CSP projects through demonstration project technical route, indicators monitoring and evaluation, etc. Guarantee reasonable planning and subsidies in rational project duration and make sure that the program can be further optimized to meet practical requirements, providing an important reference for the upcoming CSP projects in near future.

II. Strengthen coordination on financing work

i. It is proposed to strengthen the construction, operation, management and technical capacity of the project unit through the implementation of demonstration projects, so as to improve anti-risk ability of the solar thermal power generation technology and enhance the enterprises’ confidence in sustainable development.

ii. Report problems objectively, make the reasonable proposals, do a good job on the communication, report and suggestion about the power rations, subsidies, electricity price duration and other state policies. Improve the financial systems’ support for CSP projects which are developed as strategically emerging energy and promote the technical cost-effect of the projects.

III. Strengthen cooperation of the industrial chains and gradually promote the upcoming development

i. It is proposed to strengthen the cooperation of the industrial chain through the establishment and improvement of the whole industry platform, so as to promote the successful completion of the first batch of demonstration projects, and to lay the foundation and provide key technical support to the sustainable development and upcoming planning of China’s CSP industry .

ii. Accumulate the experiences and improve the technology and standards with the combination of the first batch of demonstration projects’ construction. Gradually promote the scale and industrializing long-term development of China’s solar power industry.

Sun Rui, Vice President of Electric Power Planning & Engineering Institute (EPPEI) also made two suggestions:

I. It is recommended that the local governments need to carefully plan the solar thermal power generation base. The construction of engineering projects can only be carried out rapidly and orderly with well-done basic work of site development under the guidance of the plan. Implement the construction conditions with a practical attitude for the recent planning objectives. For long-term planning objectives, fully excavate the local conditions of natural resources, pursue the greatest goal which the resource conditions can withstand, despite of restrictions of current management status, to meet the state’s need.

II. It is recommended that the state offers low-interest loans for CSP projects. In the composition of the electricity price of CSP projects, the proportion of financing costs takes up to more than 20%. The relatively high lending rates put a great pressure on the cost of solar thermal power generation. The national authorities should offer low-cost financing channels such as loans of the World Bank or ADB.