Dr.-Ing. Frank Dinter, Eskom chair in concentrating solar power (CSP) and solar thermal energy research group (STERG) at the department of mechanical and mechatronic engineering, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, believes that CSP is the most promising renewable technology for electricity production in the future.

Before coming to South Africa Dinter was the technical director on the owner side of the Andasol 3 50 MW parabolic trough plant in Spain. “CSP has the big advantage in that it can collect and store heat to produce electricity on demand, meaning also after sunset and during the night. South Africa has started to add solar thermal power plants to its existing power plant park. Soon everybody will recognise CSP plants as having real capacity and that it fits perfectly into the South African grid.”

He says that many of the CSP plants in existence are now running under stable conditions and performing quite well. “Andasol 3 and also some other Spanish solar power plants show successful operation for 24h/7days and are supporting and stabilising the grid.

“CSP is already a proven technology because it runs satisfactorily in several countries all over the world. The electricity production prices of CSP are coming down and peak power in South Africa is already more expensive than CSP. Component development to reduce the costs further and good operation strategies will help get CSP’s feet off the ground in all the sunny areas of the world.

“South Africa and the surrounding countries have some of the best sunspots on earth. Continuously developing and constructing CSP plants would probably bring a significant part of CSP power into this area for the future.