After winning huge investments from financiers and government agencies just a few years ago, concentrating solar power (CSP) has fallen out of the limelight. As photovoltaic (PV) module prices have crashed since 2010, CSP project developers have canceled numerous projects or replaced the technology with PV. To reverse the dwindling CSP pipeline and combat the crystalline silicon onslaught, CSP technology providers need to develop and integrate advanced components that can increase operating temperatures, integrate low-cost thermal energy storage (TES), reduce materials, and maintain system performance. Our analysis shows that in 202o, these advanced components integrated into power tower and linear Fresnel reflector systems with TES can reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of CSP below that of utility-scale multicrystalline silicon (mc-Si) in high direct normal irradiance environments. Such advances could bring CSP back into relevance and add a much-needed reactive power source to the world’s suite of intermittent renewable energy solutions.
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