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CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) systems can supply solar power on-demand through the use of thermal storage, helping to address grid integration challenges related to the variability of solar energy and enabling solar-generated heat to be stored until electricity is needed, even after the sun sets. Reflecting this increased value of dispatchable solar, the 2030 target for CSP baseload plants with a minimum of 12 hours of energy storage is $0.05 per kilowatt-hour. This target is discussed in depth in the CSP 2030 Report released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in January 2019.
Approximately 1.8 gigawatts of CSP are connected to the grid, including more than 767 megawatts from Ivanpah, Genesis Solar’s second phase, and Abengoa’s Mojave Solar, all of which came online in 2014. An additional 4 gigawatts has been deployed internationally.
CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat. Thermal energy can then be used to produce electricity via a turbine or heat engine driving a generator. Because CSP technologies collect solar energy and convert it to thermal energy that can be stored before powering a generator, they can be used either as a flexible provider of electricity, such as a natural gas “peaker” plant, or as a baseload source of electricity similar to a traditional nuclear or coal plant. CSP can also be deployed as fossil-fuel backup/hybridization that allows existing fossil fuel projects to run cleaner while operating at the same or lower cost. In the United States alone, between 11 and 21 gigawatts of CSP could be built and integrated into existing fossil fuel plants in the United States to reduce their carbon emissions – that’s enough electricity to power to between 3 million and 6 million homes.
TJD Web Solutions actively supports this concept. It makes better use of the lnd and allows for direct energy conversion plus the added benefit of increasing the storage capacity of a normal solar grid.