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The Solar Thermal Power Plant Market.

A number of new solar thermal power plants are currently being planned around the world. At present Solar Millennium is developing projects focusing on Spain and the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa). These markets will be discussed separately in more detail.

In Morocco we are involved in the tendering procedure for a 125-160 megawatt plant with storage. Our consortium (with Orascom and Evonik/Steag) was one of four to prequalify among an initial number of 19. In addition, we are pursuing concrete projects in South Africa, India and the Arab peninsula.

Today parabolic trough power plants constitute the most efficient and cost-effective proven large scale technology for converting solar energy into electricity. With the guaranteed long term feed-in tariffs for solar thermal generated electricity in Spain for example, the current political parameters favor the implementation of power plant projects. The more power plants that are built, the greater the cost reductions through technical innovations, serial production, as well as construction and operational experience. This in turn achieves an ongoing reduction in the need for state subsidies or support.

The graphic above illustrates the developments forecasted by a variety of studies and/or institutions for the operating capacity of solar thermal power plants until 2050 (Click on the magnifying glass in the bottom right to enlarge).

Trading in emission certificates represents a further source of income for the solar thermal power plant operator. Emission certificates are tradable environmental rights. Every country that signed the Kyoto Protocol has committed to adhere to the agreed carbon monoxide emission limits, and can also trade emission certificates.

The cost per kilowatt hour of electricity generated by solar energy will decrease considerably in the next few years. The World Market Initiative program for solar thermal power plants, which is supported by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the German Federal Environment Ministry, amongst others, makes the assumption that solar thermal power plants will be competing with conventional peak and medium load power plants within ten years. Even conservative forecasts predict at least 5,000 MW of power plant capacity can be achieved within this period. The UN (World Energy Assessment) also predicts dynamic growth for solar thermal power plants comparable with that of wind energy.