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Secretary Chu Announces up to $62 Million for CSP R&D

May 11, 2010

On May 7, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that 13 projects will share up to $62 million over five years to research, develop, and demonstrate concentrating solar power (CSP) systems. This funding will support improvements in CSP systems, components, and thermal energy storage to accelerate the market-readiness of this renewable energy technology.  The announced projects will seek to improve component and system designs to extend operation of CSP systems to an average of about 18 hours per day, a level of production that would make it possible for these plants to displace traditional coal-burning power plants.

“Developing low-cost, renewable energy generation is crucial to meeting our nation’s increasing demands for electricity,” said Secretary Chu. “By investing in the development of low-cost solar technologies we can create new jobs and pave the way towards a clean-energy future.”

CSP technologies concentrate the sun's energy and capture that energy as heat, which then drives an engine or turbine to produce electrical power. CSP plants can include low-cost energy storage, allowing them to provide electricity even when the sun is not shining.

The thirteen award selections fall into two areas: CSP systems studies and CSP component feasibility studies.

Projects in the CSP systems studies category will evaluate the feasibility of a complete CSP baseload system and support development of prototype systems for field testing. The selections include projects submitted by Abengoa Solar, Inc. of Lakewood, Colorado (up to $10.6 million); eSolar, Inc., of Pasadena, California (up to $10.8 million); and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, California (up to $10.2 million).

The CSP component feasibility studies projects will focus on research and development of concepts and components that could be part of a CSP baseload system. These selections include General Atomics of San Diego, California (up to $2.1 million); HiTek Services, Inc., of Owens Cross Roads, Alabama (up to $3.0 million); Infinia Corporation of Kennewick, Washington (up to $3.0 million); PPG Industries, Inc.of Cheswick, Pennsylvania (up to $3.0 million); SENER Engineering and Systems Inc. of San Francisco, California (up to $3.1 million); SkyFuel, Inc., of Albuquerque, New Mexico (up to $4.3 million); SunTrough Energy, Inc., of Chatsworth, California ( up to $4.5 million); Terrafore, Inc. of Riverside, California (up to $1.4 million);  University of South Florida , of Tampa (up to $2.5 million); and Wilson TurboPower, Inc., of Woburn, Massachussetts (up to $3.7 million).

For more information, including details of the projects, see the May 7 press release published by the U.S. Department of Energy.