Assessing the Value of Concentrating Solar Power in a Sunshot Future

​NREL’s “Assessing the Value and Impact of Concentrating Solar Power in a SunShot Future” project is analyzing the role of dispatchable CSP in providing multiple grid services to increase the overall penetration of solar energy and mitigate the variability impacts of solar PV. CSP is unique among solar technologies in that it can incorporate high efficiency thermal energy storage (TES) and become a dispatchable resource. Previous analysis has demonstrated several aspects of the value of CSP dispatchability. However additional analysis is needed to comprehensively understand the opportunity for CSP to play an important role in achieving the SunShot goals of large-scale deployment of solar technologies, and compare it to other flexibility resources including electricity storage.

This project analyzes next generation CSP plants and their ability to provide valuable grid services specifically required in a SunShot future. It evaluates the ability of CSP to provide inertia and primary frequency response, helping support solar penetration of up to 100%, while meeting grid performance standards. It analyzes the ability of low-solar-multiple solar peaking plants to provide firm capacity, address forecast errors, and reduce ramping requirements of fossil-generators, reducing integration costs of solar power plants. It will also evaluate system-wide portfolio benefits of CSP, and demonstrate how CSP can be incorporated into standard planning tools used to evaluate and compare different resource options to maintain system reliability at lowest cost throughout the western U.S. Finally, throughout the project, the NREL team will engage with key stakeholders, ensuring the analysis is timely and relevant to system planners, operators, and regulators, while achieving effective dissemination of project results and methods. In total, this integrated set of analyses will demonstrate the role of CSP in timescales from milliseconds to years, using state-of-the art grid simulation models.