Despite its big potential, concentrated solar power remains one of the most expensive mainstream options for generating renewable power.
Rather than trying to catch up through technological breakthroughs, however, the CSP industry should turn to lower-hanging fruit. That’s the view of Luis Crespo, president of Protermosolar, Spain’s solar thermal electricity association. Spain was a pioneer market for CSP, though it has since stalled.
CSP plants with thermal storage have greater operational and capacity value than standalone PV projects, but it’s “fruitless to wait [for] electrical markets to pay more for that,” Crespo told GTM.
In the meantime, the cost gap between solar thermal towers with storage and PV or wind projects has become substantial.
Two relatively simple shifts in focus could help CSP grow its tiny share of the global renewables market, Crespo said, discussing the results of two recent research papers.
First, CSP developers should shift their focus from daytime power delivery toward nighttime and reserve power from on-site storage, building on successful recent examples. Second, plant designs should move away from huge power towers toward smaller, more modular concepts.