The near- to mid-term outlook for concentrating solar power: mostly cloudy, chance of sun

Johan Lilliestam*, Lana Ollier, Mercè Labordena, Stefan Pfenninger, Richard Thonig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The history of concentrating solar power (CSP) is characterized by a boom-bust pattern caused by policy support changes. Following the 2014–2016 bust phase, the combination of Chinese support and several low-cost projects triggered a new boom phase. We investigate the near- to mid-term cost, industry, market and policy outlook for the global CSP sector and show that CSP costs have decreased strongly and approach cost-competitiveness with new conventional generation. Industry has been strengthened through the entry of numerous new companies. However, the project pipeline is thin: no project broke ground in 2019 and only four projects are under construction in 2020. The only remaining large support scheme, in China, has been canceled. Without additional support soon creating a new market, the value chain may collapse and recent cost and technological advances may be undone. If policy support is renewed, however, the global CSP sector is prepared for a bright future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-41
Number of pages19
JournalEnergy Sources, Part B: Economics, Planning and Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Concentrating solar power
  • energy policy
  • industry development
  • technological learning
  • value chain analysis


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