US Department of Energy (DOE) has made selections of projects for investment of up to $62m over five years to research, develop, and demonstrate Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems capable of providing low-cost electrical power.

This funding is expected to support improvements in CSP systems, components, and thermal energy storage to accelerate the market-readiness of this renewable energy technology.

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 projects will seek to improve component and system designs to extend operation to an average of about 18 hours per day, a level of production that will make it possible for these plants to displace traditional coal-burning power plants.

The thirteen award selections fall into two areas. The first category is Concentrating Solar Power Systems Studies, under which projects will evaluate the feasibility of a complete CSP baseload system and support development of prototype systems for field testing.

The other category is Concentrating Solar Power Component Feasibility Studies, under which project will focus on research and development of concepts and components that could be part of a CSP baseload system.

Abengoa Solar, eSolar and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne have bagged the projects under the first category while General Atomics, HiTek Services , Infinia, PPG Industries, SkyFuel, Terrafore, University of South Florida, Wilson TurboPower, SunTrough Energy, Sener Engineering and Systems have received the projects under the second category.

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