What is concentrated solar power? And how is China using it?
This week, California-based BrightSource Energy, a leading company in the concentrated solar power (CSP) market, announced that it would be deploying its technology in China.
The Huanghe Qinghai Delingha Solar Thermal Power Generation Project (Delingha) was one of 20 projects chosen by China’s National Energy Administration from 109 applications.
The technology has never caught on its its native US, but the Chinese are keen to utilise it as part of its 1.35GW demonstration pilot programme. CSP uses thousands of mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a boiler filled with water which is situated atop a tower. The process then heats the water in the boiler to high temperatures in order to turn a steam turbine to then generate electricity.
However, many utilities in the US and Europe have opted to purchase energy from traditional solar panel farms or natural gas plants. Plans to install CSP have grown increasingly infrequent in recent years.
Two of the world’s best-known concentrating solar projects are located in Las Vegas and Morocco. The former, called the Ivanpah Solar Power facility, is the world’s largest solar thermal power station at 392MW. Morocco’s Ouarzazate Solar Power Station has a capacity of 160MW and was connected to the grid in February of this year.
The Delingha project will be the first for the BrightSource-Shanghai Electric Group Co joint venture.
“China recognizes the integral role concentrated solar power with storage can play in reducing emissions while helping to ensure long-term grid reliability,” said David Ramm, CEO and Chairman for BrightSource Energy. “This pilot program is of unprecedented scale and will drive cost reductions throughout the CSP supply chain, increasing solar thermal’s competitiveness around the world.”
Trafigura and Yara International explore clean ammonia usage
Reducing shipping emissions is a vital component of the fight against global climate change, yet Greenhouse Gas emissions from the global maritime sector are increasing - and at odds with the IMO's strategy to cut absolute emissions by at least 50% by 2050.
How more than 70,000 ships can decrease their reliance on carbon-based sources is one of transport's most pressing decarbonisation challenges.
Yara and Trafigura intend to collaborate on initiatives that will establish themselves in the clean ammonia value chain. Under the MoU announced today, Trafigura and Yara intend to work together in the following areas:
- The supply of clean ammonia by Yara to Trafigura Group companies
- Exploration of joint R&D initiatives for clean ammonia application as a marine fuel
- Development of new clean ammonia assets including marine fuel infrastructure and market opportunities
Magnus Krogh Ankarstrand, President of Yara Clean Ammonia, said the agreement is a good example of cross-industry collaboration to develop and promote zero-emission fuel in the form of clean ammonia for the shipping industry. "Building clean ammonia value chains is critical to facilitate the transition to zero emission fuels by enabling the hydrogen economy – not least within trade and distribution where both Yara and Trafigura have leading capabilities. Demand and supply of clean ammonia need to be developed in tandem," he said.
There is a growing consensus that hydrogen-based fuels will ultimately be the shipping fuels of the future, but clear and comprehensive regulation is essential, according to Jose Maria Larocca, Executive Director and Co-Head of Oil Trading for Trafigura.
Ammonia has a number of properties that require "further investigation," according to Wartsila. "It ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive, making safe handling and storage important. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by aftertreatment or by optimising the combustion process," it notes.
Trafigura has co-sponsored the R&D of MAN Energy Solutions’ ammonia-fuelled engine for maritime vessels, has performed in-depth studies of transport fuels with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and has published a white paper on the need for a global carbon levy for shipping fuels to be introduced by International Maritime Organization.
Oslo-based Yara produces roughly 8.5 million tonnes of ammonia annually and employs a fleet of 11 ammonia carriers, including 5 fully owned ships, and owns 18 marine ammonia terminals with 580 kt of storage capacity – enabling it to produce and deliver ammonia across the globe.
It recently established a new clean ammonia unit to capture growth opportunities in emission-free fuel for shipping and power, carbon-free fertilizer and ammonia for industrial applications.