Asia – Pacific


Currently, the cost of STE in Australia is higher than commercially viability will allow. Despite ongoing and active representations from the concentrating solar thermal industry in Australia, at the time of this writing, no material policy initiatives have been proposed by the government to support dispatchable renewable power generation such as STE with large-scale energy storage. However, the government has provided indications that reviews of the renewable energy target for the period beyond 2020 are likely to consider dispatchability and energy storage as key elements.


A parallel initiative, partly funded the Australian Renewable Energy Agency58, has been established with the goal of reducing the cost of STE technology specifically. This initiative, known as the ‘Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative is managed by the CSIRO in a dedicated directorate. ASTRI has received commitments of funding of approximately AUD$ 70 million over eight years, subject to securing partial funding from industry sources. A review of the ASTRI will take place in 2017, the mid-point of the ASTRI programme period.[1]


Presently, only two STE projects are operational in Australia, both partly funded by Australian Renewable Energy Agency. They are:


  • The Vast Solar Pty limited 6MWth (1.1 MWe) Pilot CR project, located in Central Western New South Wales. Construction of the Vast Solar Pilot Project was completed in May 2015, and commissioning is underway at the time of writing. Once operational, this will be Australia’s only electricity grid-connected so- lar thermal power plant with thermal energy[2]
  • The CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship STE facility, located at West Mayfield, near New- castle in New South Wales. This facility is primarily used for research and development, including research into solar chemistry and solar gas synthesis, and is also the location from which the ASTRI programme referred to earlier is managed[3].


Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector technology was proposed for three projects in Australia, however, none are currently in operation.


[1] The ASTRI is primarily a research initiative, and is undertaken through a collaboration of many of Australia’s leading STE research institutions, including CSIRO, Australian National University, University of Adelaide, University of Queensland and others.  ASTRI is not intended to provide funding for demonstration projects on a major scale, but may lead to development of demonstration project for which funding may be provided by ARENA.

[2] See, thermal-pilot-project/.

[3] See,


After 20 years of perseverance, a breakthrough was made in China’s STE project construction. In August 2012, the first MW level solar power tower plant in China the Beijing Badaling solar thermal power plant was put into full operation.


In September   2014,   National   Development and Reform Commission set a FIT of RMB 1.2 yuan/kWh for the 50 MW Delingha solar thermal power plant operated by SUPCON Group. The first phase of the project, which has a 10 MW capacity and gas boiler for superheat, has been in commercial operation since July 2013. National Basic Research Programme (973 Programme), National  High-tech  R&D  Programme  (863 Programme), National Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and National Technical Innovation Fund for Medium and Small- Size Enterprise all give long-term support to STE technology.


With the support of the government and private sector investment, many PT collector systems have been put into operation, and several LFR and Stirling solar thermal demonstration systems have been built in the past several years.[1]


To promote technical innovation and build an industry technology innovation chain, National Solar Thermal Energy Alliance was established in October 2009. The country is also advancing research into STE and currently has 25 sets of solar thermal collecting experiment facilities. The supply chain for STE has also started developing. A total of 15 companies, for example, can produce PT vacuum receiver tubes; five companies can mass  produce  trough  glass  reflector  mirrors; two companies could provide the EPC for solar tower  type  collector  systems;  two  companies can produce turbines for solar thermal electricity, and there is one joint venture company in the country that combines BrightSource’s advanced STE technology with Shanghai Electric’s leading equipment manufacturing and EPC services.


According to “The 12th Five-Year Plan on Renewable Energy Development”, the installed STE capacity by 2015 was expected to be 1 GW. Current installed capacity in the country, however, is about 12 MW. Nevertheless, China has more than 30 solar thermal power projects planned, the total capacity of which (if all realized) would amount to about 3 GW. In December 2014, the National Energy Administration issued the “Notice on Drawing up 13th Five-Year Plan on Solar Energy Development by General Affairs Department of National Energy Administration.” STE is an important part of this next plan, which is of great significance for STE industry.


[1] Source: China National Solar Thermal Energy Alliance.


India has also a very promising solar resource, with annual global radiation of between 1,600 kWh/m2   and 2,200 kWh/m2, which is typical of tropical and sub-tropical regions. The Indian government estimates that just 1% of the country’s landmass could meet its energy requirements until 2030.[1] On the solar market development front, the National Action Plan on Climate Change puts forwards some specific policy measures, including research and development to lower the cost of solar energy production and maintenance, establishing a solar energy research centre, and a target of least 1,000 MW of STE by 2017.


The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission is a major initiative of the Indian government as well as state governments to promote sustainable growth and address India’s energy security challenges.


The JNSM seeks to establish India as a global leader in solar energy, by creating the policy conditions for the quick diffusion of solar technologies across the country. The Mission has set a target of 20 GW to be executed in three phases (first phase from 2012 to 2013, second phase from 2013 to 2017 and third phase from 2017 to 2022). The Mission also designates the National Thermal Power Corporation’s Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd as the Nodal Agency for procuring solar power by entering into a PPA with solar power generation projects. CERC has set a tariff cap of INR 15.31 for solar thermal power projects.[2]


Under phase one of the NSM, 470 MW of STE was allocated. In April 2014, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and the state-run Solar Energy Corp. of India confirmed that the STE target for 2015 would be reduced from 1,080 MW to 100 MW. This came after only one project out of seven successfully met the March 2014 deadline under Phase 1 of the JNSM.


India currently has an installed STE capacity of 235 MW. This includes the 50 MW Godawari plant, the 50 MW Megha plant and the 125 MW Reliance Areva project. The Reliance Areva project is the world’s largest operational LFR plant.


[1] Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, Government of India, 2008, “National Action Plan on Climate Change.”

[2] CSP Today Global Tracker.