Solar Power » Industry

Value Chain Activity: Concentrated Solar Thermal

Due to the size and complexity of concentrated solar thermal plants, many of the components are built on-site. While there are a number of manufacturers of components such as collectors, mirrors and heat transfer fluid, the heart of the industry beats in the system integration activity where the facilities are constructed. And it is the turnkey solution providers that promote certain technologies and indeed design them.

Strategic Partnerships

These technology integrators maintain strategic partnerships with

  • Suppliers: of components they do not produce themselves
  • Owners of coal- and gas-fired power plants: to plan integration of the CST plant into the combined cycle plant or to add to an existing coal capacity,
  • Utility companies: The ultimate customers are utility companies or independent electricity generators (e.g. Sunray Energy).
  • Project Developers: Some CST plants are constructed for project developers, but this is not always the case.


Companies in Concentrated Solar Thermal


Strategic Map of CST Companies

Strategic Positions

There are four main technologies in different stages of maturity. Parabolic troughs have been developed in SEGS (in California) since the 1980s, and most of the installed capacity is of that technology. There are still newcomers in this segment (e.g. SkyFuel), but the main crux of the technology is proven.

The second most mature technology is the use of a central receiver (power tower), which has already a commercial production in Spain with Abengoa Solar.

The other technologies, Linear Fresnel and Dish Engine are much more recent with installed capacity well under 10MW. The challenge for those new technologies is not just to have a good technology, but to accelerate the learning curve to ramp up production to sizeable levels. Signs are encouraging, at least for the central receiver technology with huge investments by Masdar (into Torresol) for instance.


Below is a list of companies in Concentrated Solar Thermal. This is a selective list that captures the most significant players in this segment.

Name Corporate Ownership Country Comments
Spain Active in all technology segments:
Solar Tower PS10 in Sevialla (11MW)
Low & high concentration tracker CPV, Sevilla
Trough CST - Solana 280MW to be built in Phoenix, AZ
USA Stealth mode
Subsidiary of Alanod Germany Manufacturer of Reflector Surfaces only
Italy Produces Vegaflex reflectors for CST power plants
USA Ausra develops linear Fresnel technology. Installed capacity in the single-digit MWs
USA Proprietary power tower technology. Constructing 100MW plant in California. Have signed contracts for 1,300MW with Edison and 900MW with Pacific Gas & Electric. Investors: BP, Chevron, Google, StatOil, Morgan Stanley
USA CST power plants - turnkey, 1.5GW projects globally. Technology focus on solar towers and heliostats
Germany Solar Mirrors
USA Developing a CST dish engine with stirling engine. In prototyping- phase
Joint venture between Solar Millennium and MAN Ferrostall Germany Project Development arm of Solar Millennium
Germany Novatec has patented design for linear Fresnel collector technology. Offer turnkey solutions. Commissioned first 1.4MW plant in Spain in 1Q2009.
Schott AG, Wacker Chemie Germany Schott is active in crystalline modules (13.5% multi-c), thin-film technology a-Si and CST components
USA SkyFuel develops CST technologies for linear Fresnel and parabolic troughs. Provides turnkey solutions. First commercial installation of 43MW in 2009 in California.
Germany Parabolic Trough Power plants, Fresnel in development
USA Developing solar tower and molten salt storage loop. Has closed $140m fundraising to develop projects.
USA Develops and builds solar fields with parabolic troughs. Solel is developing 553MW solar park in Majave Desert, California.
USA Dish Engine with Stirling Engine called "SunCatcher"
Germany Technology: Solar Dish Stirling
Joint venture between Sener (Spain) and Masdar (Abu Dhabi) Spain Currently 17MW built with CST tower technology in Spain (GEMASOLAR project). Plan to add 320MW by 2013 and 1GW within 10 years. 
  UK Developing and manufacturing high precision radial and linear Fresnel lenses. Efficiencies of over 90% have been quoted.


Downloads: Download comprehensive list of manufacturers of concentrating photovoltaics modules.


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