A new report out from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today (June 9) finds that utility-scale concentrated solar projects add up to 6 cents per kilowatt hour in value, particularly in CSP systems with energy storage. The added value comes because the systems can produce electricity much more like a conventional generator system.
The new report, "Estimating the Value of Utility-Scale Solar Technologies in California Under a 40% Renewable Portfolio Standard," from NREL looks at two scenarios in California where the state’s 33 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) mandate will be fully required in the next six years. The first scenario, the 33 percent RPS would increase the value of CSP by 5 cents per kilowatt hour. The latter, which considers a more ambitious 40 percent RPS, would add 6 cents of value per kilowatt hour produces by CSP systems with storage. “The added value means that at peak demands, CSP can help lower electricity bills,” NREL said.
"CSP adds significant additional value when compared to less flexible generation sources," NREL CSP Group Manager Mark Mehos, co-author with Jennie Jorgenson and Paul Denholm of the study, said. The key of the value for CSP projects like Abengoa’s 280 megawatt Solana project in Arizona is the thermal energy storage. That energy storage allows the projects to produce electricity when the sun’s gone down or is obscured by clouds. Regular solar photovoltaics aren’t able to produce solar electricity when there’s no sunlight.
"As the penetration of renewables rises, so does the relative value of CSP,” Mehos said. Hence, under higher renewable energy penetrations, CSP-power becomes becomes more valuable.
The new report is the second in a series, according to NREL. The first was "Estimating the Performance and Economic Value of Multiple Concentrating Solar Power Technologies in a Production Cost Model.” Now that these two are out the group is looking at other benefits of CSP. For instance, Mehos said, “CSP could also allow greater penetration of 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.”Tweet