Uncovering solar thermal energy: – An assessment of market opportunities

Thomas Laksø Frederiksen & Peter Hjortsø

Student thesis: Master thesis


The aim of this project is to describe the market for solar thermal energy [STE] electricity production and identify the main market opportunities. Rather than focusing on a specific company, this paper assumes a market- and industry-based approach, showing how the most recent changes in microenvironment present new opportunities for current players and potential entrants. By describing STE technology and the market, we wish to give a realistic and up-to-date appraisal of the threats and opportunities latent in this area of investment, and to point potential entrants (or investors) towards the markets and segments where we determine the most significant prospective gains to be found. These objectives are reflected in the structuring of our paper. Section 2 will initiate the reader by providing a basic introduction to the field of STE, through a comprehensive description of its technological properties, which will serve as a background to further understand and assess the profitability of STE. This information includes the particular properties of the product, its comparative strengths and weaknesses relative to its main competitors, and its future potential. This is followed in Section 3 by an analysis of the energy industry and most relevant STE markets. The aim of this section will both be to look to the historical beginnings and subsequent development of these markets up to the present, concluding in a description of the current STE markets, as well as a prognosis on possible up-coming markets. From this analysis we will highlight important stimulators and barriers to industry growth. Through the course of this section, the reader should gain a clear understanding of the size, growth and properties of key STE markets. In section 4, the paper will undertake a more analytic industry analysis, by examining the value chain of the industry, its structure and main players. This information will serve as the foundation for a ‘5 forces’ analysis, the results of which will be elaborated and explicated. A description of the cost structures and competitiveness of STE plants will round out section 4. The findings of sections 3 and 4 will then be put to practical use in section 5, where they reappear as the basis for an industry–sector opportunity study focusing on several separate but interconnected strategic areas where STE companies can leverage their advantages. At the conclusion on the paper, the reader should therefore have both a basic understanding of the key 5 STE technologies and markets, as well as a clear indication of the most significant market opportunities.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2009
Number of pages114