Brussels (ed) ESTELA will cover the neighbouring countries involved in Solar thermal electricity (STE) in order to promote the large deployment of STE in a harmonised context. One of the many assets of the technology is its dispatchability. STE plants can follow the demand curve perfectly, with operational time (capacity factor) much higher than 50 percent all year long. Furthermore, STE power plants are able to feed stable electricity in to the grid, thanks to their well dimensioned onsite storage and their ability to hybridise with biomass or any other source. In some regions, hybridisation with natural gas or coal might be advantageous. Unlike other generation technologies, STE plants provide a minimum local content close to 50 percent from the very first plant installed. The positive macroeconomic impact of STE plants is the highest among the most relevant renewable energy technologies, both in job creation and in the development of local industry.
Finally, the competitiveness of STE plants in the short and medium term has been proven: a remarkable cost reduction has been achieved by STE since 2007 with only three gigawatts installed worldwide. Power plants in Spain, some of which are still in the construction phase, can no longer be considered as a current cost reference for STE technologies. Feed-in tariffs in Spain correspond to projects approved in 2009, with designs completed before 2007. However, new and larger plants designed and constructed in other sunbelt countries now show much lower generation costs in the range of EUR 0.15 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The industry belives that the costs will decrease further in the next years to the range of EUR 0.10/kWh by 2020. Last but not least, the outcome of the first call of the New Entrants’ Reserve of the European Emissions Trading System (NER300) was published on 18 December 2012, awarding EUR 203.3 million for STE from the auctions of 300 million allowances. The European Investment Bank (EIB) positively evaluated four STE projects: two in Greece (parabolic dishes and a central receiver), one in Cyprus (parabolic dishes) and one in Spain (a central receiver).