After three years of low growth and an increase in global costs, the announcement and implementation of the Chinese demonstration programme for concentrating solar power (CSP) has changed the outlook for the technology from gloomy to better than ever. Here, we analyse the Chinese CSP strategy, its drivers, and its effects on CSP industry and costs in China and globally. We find that the Chinese demonstration programme has led to the emergence of new CSP industry actors, and that it helped to the reduce global average costs of new CSP stations to USD 0.12 per kWh. However, the Chinese expansion, which is supplied almost exclusively by Chinese companies, follows a wholly different cost trajectory than the expansion in the rest of the world, which is almost exclusively served by non-Chinese companies: whereas costs in both markets have decreased, the cost of Chinese CSP stations under construction is 40% lower than that of plants built elsewhere. We conclude that the Chinese support programme has thus succeeded in its central aims of leapfrogging and has built up a domestic industry capable of building stations and most components at lower costs than foreign competitors. However, Chinese companies are not yet active outside China, nor do we find many foreign participants in the Chinese market. The effects of the Chinese CSP programme on markets and industries outside China have thus far been limited: the Chinese and non-Chinese markets currently largely exist in parallel, each with their own supply chains. Whether the new Chinese companies seek to and manage to conquer the global market as well remains to be seen but so far, they have not.
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Research Article| July 25 2019
The dragon awakens: Will China save or conquer concentrating solar power?
AIP Conf. Proc. 2126, 130006 (2019)
Johan Lilliestam, Lana Ollier, Stefan Pfenninger; The dragon awakens: Will China save or conquer concentrating solar power?. AIP Conf. Proc. 25 July 2019; 2126 (1): 130006. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5117648
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