Current European policy framework

Whilst the EU, as a whole, is making good progress towards meeting its 2020 climate and energy targets[1], an integrated policy framework for the period up to 2030 is needed to ensure regulatory certainty for investors and a coordinated approach among EU Member States.


The 2030 targets, as agreed on 23 October 2014, are as follows:


  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030;[2]
  • Increasing the share of renewable energy to at least 27%;[3] and
  • Increasing energy efficiency by at least 27%.[4]


This framework will drive continued progress towards a low-carbon economy. It aims to build a competitive and secure energy system that ensures affordable energy for all consumers, increases energy security, reduces dependence on energy imports and creates new opportunities for growth and jobs. At the time of this writing, the discussion on how Member States will achieve their respective 2030 targets is on- going. STE technologies will help Europe increase the share of renewable energy to more than 27% and contribute to reaching 45%-60% to the energy mix in Europe by 2030. The European Council has also set the goal of achieving 15% interconnection capacity and emphasized the need for the full implementation of the internal electricity market. This will make it possible for the whole European continent to benefit from sustainable and manageable STE electricity.



[2] To achieve the overall 40% target, the sectors covered by the EU emissions trading system[2]  would have to reduce their emissions by 43% compared to 2005. Emissions from sectors outside the EU ETS would need to be cut by 30% below the 2005 level. This will need to be translated into Member State targets. The European Council has outlined the main principles to achieve this.

[3] Renewable energy will play a key role in the transition towards a competitive, secure and sustainable energy system. The Commission proposed an objective of increasing the share of renewable energy to at least 27% of the EU’s energy consumption by 2030. The European Council endorsed this target which is binding at EU level.

[4] The European Council endorsed an indicative target of 27% to be reviewed in 2020, having in mind a revised 30% target.


Spain is the current STE market leader in installed capacity with 2,375 MW. The majority of STE projects in Spain use PT technology. But Spain also hosts projects using solar tower technology (one with molten salts and two with steam), LFR (two projects with a combined capacity of 31 MW) and a 22 MW hybrid PT with biomass power plant. Around 40% of the STE capacity has storage systems based on molten salt, which gives a lot of flexibility to the generation. As the operation of some of these plants extends back to 2007, Spain boasts proven operational experience for power plants with molten salt storage systems. What’s more, production at these plants has increased every year with the plants meeting a greater share of demand as a result. The optimization of production and its perfect coupling to the power demand curve makes the value of the STE production especially important among renewables. Some of the most important production records in 2015 are:


  • Maximum contribution 8.5 % (most of the time between May to September);
  • Maximum daily contribution around 5% (in many days in June, July and August); and
  • Monthly production about 4% (889 GWh in July and August).

Annual Production and Demand Share in Spain

Annual electricity production from STE power plants in Spain over 12 months from 2009 to 2015

An example of  the  perfect  coupling  of  the production with the demand illustrated above. All these records and experiences are a very positive reference for other countries that want to implement plans to develop STE.


Since the completion of a 5 MW PT pilot plant in Sicily in 2010, no new plants have come online. ANEST, the Italian Association of STE, confirms 17 projects are currently in the promotion stage, for a total installed capacity of about 360 MW – 190 MW in Sicily, 120 MW in Sardinia and 50 MW in Basilicata region. The announced plants cover all the STE technologies and will come online by 2017. Of the 17 projects, six of the large plants and two of the medium plants will be on the mainland. The remaining nine projects are smaller than 5 MW and based on LFR technology for both electricity production and heat applications.


The Minister of Energy and Sustainable development has declared its interest in STE technologies and that it would consider such technologies in a new facilitating process for informal and direct proposals related to innovative solar and marine technologies. In particular, this new process should include a portfolio of solar thermal power plants in order to promote thermal energy storage and hybridization.


Several STE projects are under construction:

  • ALBA NOVA 1, located on Corsica Island of France, a 12 MW Fresnel STE project, which started construction in April 2014. Commis- sioning and start up is expected to happen by end of 2015.
  • LLO, located in the French Pyrenees, is a 9 MW Fresnel STE project, which received all necessary permits in 2014, and construction started at the beginning of 2015. Commissioning and start up are expected by mid-2017.

Other European Countries


Cyprus is awaiting publication of its FIT. But one project is already under construction with funding from the NER 300 initiative. Named the EOS project, this 25 MW facility consists of an array of small towers along with innovative graphite storage system.


In Greece, two projects were approved under the NER 300 initiative – MINUS tower in Crete and MAXIMUS dish in mainland. It’s unclear if either of these projects will move forward, however, given the current political and economic situation