Reported from CSPPLAZA: Ivanpah, Solana and Crescent Dunes, regarded as landmark in the history of CSP plants development, have attracted attention of people across the world, especially in China market. Given that Crescent Dunes has been in operation for more than six month since formally put into operation in Feburary this year, CSPPLAZA makes tables of three plants’ electricity production to see whether they perform well.
It is in the United States that largr-scale commercialized solar thermal power plants up to hundreds of megawatt was initially developed, then followed by other emerging markets, like Morocco, South Africa and China. The mainstream scale of CSP plants ranges from 50 MW level in Spain to more than 100 MW level currently, showing that the development trend of commercialized plants is larger and larger installed capacity of single machine. For example, there are 6 projects comprising of several over 100MW single module in China’s first batch of demonstration project list.
However, larger scale in plants, more challenges to technology, which obviously increases the complexity in debugging and operating the system and ultimately significantly affects the actual performance in process of generation. The following graph shows how five famous large-scale CSP plants in US perform in generating capacity. They are 392 MW Ivanpah tower plant, 110 MW Crescent Dunes molten salt tower plant, 280 MW Solana prarabolic trough plant, 250 MW Mojave Solar prarabolic trough plant and 250 MW Genesis Solar prarabolic trough plant.
Ivanpah, Solana and Crescent Dunes are three well-known CSP plants both at home and abroad. The project owner of Ivanpah – BrightSource – will apply its technology to a 135MW tower demonstration project in China; Solana and Crescent Dunes are respectively benchmark for large-scale parabolic trough plant with heat storage system and molten salt tower CSP power plant. CSPPLAZA has published one article preciously in which two plants’ electricity productions from January, 2014 to November, 2014 were compared and analysized. Given that Crescent Dunes has been in operation for more than six month since formally put into operation in Feburary this year, CSPPLAZA makes tables of three plants’ electricity production to see whether they perform well.
According to NREL data, Solana power plant with heat storage system up to 6 hours, whose designed annual output is 944,000MWh, has been combined to the grid in October, 2013. Ivanpah without heat storage, which should supply electricity 975,000MWh per year definded in PPA agreement, has been formally put into operation and combined to the grid in February 13rd, 2014. Crescent dune power plant with 10 hours of heat storage, whose designed annual output is 500,000MWh, has been combined to the grid in Feburary, 2016. Because the operation time of Solanna and Ivanpah is very close, it will be of great value when compare their actual performance.
Solana’s designed generating capacity monthly on average is 78667MWh. As can be seen from the above table, during the pass nine months, the highest electricity generation happened in June, 2016, that is 88994MWh. Besides, the actual performances in May, June and July have exceeded expectations. The Ivanpah power plant is designed to generate 81250 MWh of electricity per month, and it created a new record in July with generating capacity of 98849 MWh and broke the highest record of 77534MWh in June, 2015. But considering the solar radiation changes from season to season, there is little reference significance comparing power generation monthly.
While the power generation of Crescent Dune power plant is still far less than expected from the data in recent months. It should generated electricity of 41667MWh monthly as designed, but in the past few months, the hightest output is 25560MWh in June, 2016. SolarReserve, the owner of Crescent Dune, recently explained that it still need one-year transition period for this project to reach the designed target. But it showed in table that there is no significant growth trend based on power generation data from February to July this year. Currently, the entire CSP industry, especially the Chinese market is keeping an eye on Crescent Dune’s latest progress and to see if it can achieve previous goal with less than 5 months. In China’s first bactch of demonstration projects, of which seven projects choose molten salt tower technology with total installed capacity of 500MW, accounting for 37%. Without a doubt, Crescent Dune power plant’s actual performance will have an impact on domestic molten salt tower project development.