Given significant decreases in costs and the ability to provide flexible power, Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is expected to play a key role as a local and renewable source of power to cope with increasing amounts of variable renewable energy (vRE) in power systems.
Increasing amounts of vRE are posing challenges to power systems. First, solar photovoltaic (PV) without storage cannot meet demand at night, so other forms of supply are needed for nighttime power. Second, power systems must have the ability to ramp up and down during the day to complement the ramp-up of solar PV in the morning and ramp-down of solar PV in the evening, which coincides with the evening demand peak. Third, power systems must have the ability to cope with frequent variations in outputs from solar PV and wind power plants.
CSP with thermal energy storage is well-placed to address the first two challenges and complement solar PV in the power system of the future, instead of combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGT) (or other more expensive thermal power plants) that currently play this role. CSP with thermal energy storage can provide renewable power at night and has the capability to ramp up and down during the day in the same order of magnitude as CCT.
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