A new report conducted by the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that concentrating solar power (CSP) projects adds additional value to utility-scale solar energy in California.
The report, "Estimating the Value of Utility-Scale Solar Technologies in California Under a 40% Renewable Portfolio Standard," finds that CSP helps maintain capacity for hours when sunlight is not available.
This is an increase in value of 5 cents per kilowatt hour under a 33 percent renewable standard – the mandate for 2020 – or 6 cents per kilowatt hour under a 40 percent renewable standard.
"CSP adds significant additional value when compared to less flexible generation sources," said NREL CSP Group Manager Mark Mehos, and co-author of the study. "As the penetration of renewables rises, so does the relative value of CSP. CSP could also allow greater penetration of photovoltaic (PV) by making the grid more flexible and reducing curtailment of PV by generating energy after the sun sets. We intend to investigate this in more detail for the remainder of this year."
CSP technologies capture solar energy as heat, which drives an engine or turbine to produce electrical power. With thermal energy, CSP can be stored for several hours through storage systems.
The report was funded through the Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in support of its SunShot Initiative.
To read the full report, click here.