A Techno-Economic Framework for the Analysis of Concentrating Solar Power Plants with Storage

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Concentrating solar power plants can integrate cost-effective thermal energy storage systems and thereby supply controllable power on demand, an advantage against other renewable technologies. Storage integration allows a solar thermal power plant to increase its load factor and to shift production to periods of peak demand. It also enables output firmness, providing stability to the power block and to the grid. Thus, despite the additional investment, storage can enhance the performance and economic viability of the plants.However, the levelized cost of electricity of these plants yet remains higher than for other technologies, so projects today are only viable through the provision of incentives or technology-specific competitive bid tenders. It is the variability of the solar resource, the myriad roles that storage can assume, and the complexity of enhancing the synergies between the solar field, the storage and the power block, what makes the development of adequate policy instruments, design and operation of these plants a challenging process.In this thesis a comprehensive methodology for the pre-design and analysis of concentrating solar power plants is presented. The methodology is based on a techno-economic modeling approach that allows identifying optimum trade-off curves between technical, environmental, and financial performance indicators. A number of contemporary plant layouts and novel storage and hybridization concepts are assessed to identify optimum plant configurations, in terms of component size and storage dispatch strategies.Conclusions highlight the relevance between the sizing of key plant components, the operation strategy and the boundaries set by the location. The interrelation between critical performance indicators, and their use as decisive parameters, is also discussed. Results are used as a basis to provide recommendations aimed to support the decision making process of key actors along the project development value chain of the plants. This research work and conclusions are primarily meant to set a stepping stone in the research of concentrating solar power plant design and optimization, but also to support the research towards understanding the value of storage in concentrating solar power plants and in the grid.