Acciona SA Chairman Jose Manuel Entrecanales said solar thermal power plants, which use mirrors to capture the sun’s energy, have become cheaper than photovoltaic power in some parts of the world.
Solar mirrors are an economic alternative in mining areas in Australia that have high levels of sunlight, strong industrial power demand and are far from the conventional power grid, he said at a press conference in Madrid today. There are similar conditions in some parts of Latin America, he added.
“Those projects will become landmarks” for the technology, he said. “From there we will pass on to the next generation of efficiency.”
The prospects for solar thermal plants have been clouded over the past year as the price of photovoltaic panels, which generate a current directly from sunlight, tumbled after manufacturing capacity surged in China. The U.S., which has led development of solar thermal plants in its south western deserts, is also phasing out support for the generators.
The price of solar panels dropped almost 50 percent last year forcing Solar Millenium AG, a German solar thermal developer, to switch to panels at its main project in the U.S. The company filed for bankruptcy last year.