Concentrated solar thermal aka solar baseload has definitely come of age in the United States.

http://grist.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/parabolic_troughs.jpg?w=581&h=272

Just a few weeks ago, I posted “World’s largest solar power plants with thermal storage to be built in Arizona” about a 200-MW plant and a 280-MW plant planned for AZ.  But “The technology that will save humanity” is on the fast track thank to the stimulus:  “Mohave Sun Power, LLC has announced plans to build a 340-megawatt concentrating solar project.”

CSP plants are cropping up all over.  Earth2tech reports, “11 Solar Thermal Companies Powering Up“:

There are 2.5GW of solar thermal projects with announced power purchase agreements in California and Arizona slated for construction in the next few years.

UPDATE:  In its new study Global Concentrated Solar Power Markets and Strategies 2009-2020, Emerging Energy Research finds that “the CSP industry is scaling rapidly with 1.2 GW under construction as of April 2009 and another 13.9 GW announced globally through 2014 … with 8.5 GW in the pipeline and scheduled for installation by 2014.”  Here is their remarkable figure showing the “global take-off” of CSP:

Global CSP pipeline by country, 1985-2014.

 

The easiest way to deal with the intermittency of the sun is cheap storage — and thermal storage is much cheaper and has a much higher round-trip efficiency than electric storage.  The ability to provide power reliably throughout the day and evening in key locations around the world (including China and India) is why CSP delivers 3 of the 12 – 14 wedges needed for “the full global warming solution.”

Not all of the 2.5 GW of CSP being built in CA and AZ have storage, but the latest and biggest plants do:

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