The 500 MW Palen concentrating solar power project that had been in the early stages of development in California for years has now been, more or less, scrapped.
The planning application for the project was withdrawn recently — less than a week after development authorities let the developers know that the project would have to be scaled down if it was to receive the go-ahead.
Specifically, the authorities in question — the California Energy Commission (CEC) — stated that the project would have to abandon the two-tower plan and scale it down to feature just one tower. The reasoning for the scaling down would be that the project would then use less land and have less of an environmental impact — something to appease the critics of CSP technology, no doubt. (To be fair, there have been real questions brought up regarding the environmental harms of the technology.)
In response to the comments from the CECIL, the Abengoa and Brightsource joint venture withdrew its application via a simple and concise submission to the CEC on September 26th.
The (presumed) scrapping of this project represents just the latest in a long series of challenges that has faced the wide-scale deployment of CSP technology in the US. Many of these challenges relate to environmental concerns — many of which could be overcome by developing on brownfield sites rather than “pristine” desert environments.
The other big challenge has been the rapid fall in solar PV prices, which have resulted in CSP being much less financially competitive than solar PV.
As it stands currently, the only large-scale CSP project that’s been developed in California in recent years is the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility.