solar thermal electric

New report promotes economic benefits of CSP with storage

Concentrated Solar Power with thermal storage can offer significant economic value for utilities and grid operators
New report promotes economic benefits of CSP with storage

A new report published by the Concentrating Solar Power Alliance (CSPA) summarizes a broad wealth of analysis generated by national energy labs and academic institutions throughout the US with the aim of providing a more comprehensive framework for the benefit of regulators and utilities when engaged in solar valuation. CSPA is an advocacy organisation which dedicates itself to education of regulators, utilities and grid operators concerning the benefits of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) and of thermal storage. It has a membership which includes many of the world’s major CSP corporations and their supply chains.  

The report, entitled “The Economic and Reliability Benefits of CSP with Thermal Energy Storage: Recent Studies and Research Needs”, is over 100 pages in length and highlights the benefits to be gained from installing CSP with thermal energy storage. It also covers provision of energy and ancillary services and enhanced capacity credits and further includes issues relating to avoidance of system integration costs.

“This report comes at a time when utilities and grid operators are evaluating the true cost and operational impacts of higher penetrations of variable resources,” said Tex Wilkins, Executive Director of the CSP Alliance. “The independent research compiled from the national labs and universities, as well as the findings shared by CSP companies, shows that CSP with storage will be a very important, valuable resource for utilities and grid operators as different countries aim to achieve clean energy goals.”

Among the main conclusions, the report points to research findings indicating that at low renewable penetration levels thermal storage can add energy and value to a CSP plant in the range of $5 to $10 per MWh depending on plant design and location. CSP with thermal storage also tends to have significantly higher capacity value when compared to variable solar resources. At higher solar penetration levels the comparative economic value of incremental CSP with storage increases to $30 per MWh or even higher as penetration increases. The flexibility offered by CSP with storage could also support the integration of wind and solar PV.

Regulators, utilities and grid operators are increasingly building ‘net system cost’ considerations into their evaluations including issues such as system integration and reliability. The findings presented in this report could make a significant contribution to those considerations leading to more appropriate valuations

“A robust body of research is available and demonstrates that CSP with storage provides additional economic and reliability value to utilities and grid operators when compared to other renewable investments,” said Dr. Udi Helman, Director of Economic and Pricing Analysis, BrightSource Energy. “CSP’s ability to reduce its costs through commercial deployment, coupled with its long-term economic and reliability value when compared to other renewables, helps position this technology as a key component of a low carbon energy mix.”

Further information:

Concentrating Solar Power Alliance (CSPA)

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