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Concentrating solar thermal power as a viable alternative in China's electricity supply

Authors
Journal
Energy Policy
0301-4215
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
39
Issue
12
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2011.08.034
Keywords
  • Concentrating Solar Thermal Power
  • Solar Power
  • China Energy
Disciplines
  • Ecology
  • Economics

Abstract

Abstract Study of low-carbon and pollution renewable alternatives for China revealed that concentrating solar thermal (CST) electric power generation was underemphasized in China's renewable energy plan. The analysis shows the competitive viability of CST: (1) China has the key prerequisites to make CST power generation economical including high-quality insolation and appropriate land, (2) CST's proven history, scale, and dispatchability makes it a good utility-scale power option, especially in the economically underdeveloped Western regions, (3) while CST power is currently more expensive than coal-fired electricity on a nominal basis, when costs of externalities are accounted for, CST, at 11.4 US cents/kWh, can become 57% cheaper than scrubbed coal and 29% cheaper than nuclear power, (4) CST power continues dropping in cost due to economies of scale and technological improvements and can potentially realize a levelized electricity cost of around 4 cents/kWh within ten years, (5) it would significantly rise in competitiveness if and when China completes the extensive smart grid for connecting its solar-abundant western regions with the high-demand eastern regions, (6) CST has the potential to positively impact Western China's economy, but proper policy and deal structure must be in place to ensure that the local community shares the benefit.

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