CSP Library

The Economic and Reliability Benefits for CSP with Thermal Energy Storage

Publishing date: December 2012

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plants both with and without thermal energy storage – and possibly, hybrid fuel capability – are unique renewable resources that provide not only clean electric power, but also a range of operational capabilities that support the continued reliability of electric power systems. Thermal energy storage allows these plants to store some of the solar energy captured during the daylight hours, and, with some variations among designs, shift energy production into subsequent hours overnight or the next day as needed by the utility or regional system operator. Utilizing the stored thermal energy to operate a conventional synchronous generator, they can also support power quality and provide ancillary services, including voltage support, frequency response, regulation and spinning reserves, and ramping reserves – which would otherwise be provided, at least in part, by conventional fossil‐fuel generation. Finally, both by being available during peak demand in sunlight hours and by providing the capability to shift energy to other hours, the addition of thermal energy storage to CSP plants improves their contribution to resource adequacy, or capacity, requirements, especially as solar penetration increases.

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