TASK I: Solar Thermal Electric Systems

Operating Agent: Mark S. Mehos, NREL, USA

Nature of Work & Objectives

Task I addresses the design, testing, demonstration, evaluation, and application of concentrating solar power systems, also known as solar thermal electric systems. This includes parabolic troughs, linear Fresnel collectors, power towers and dish/engine systems. Through technology development and market barrier removal, the focus of SolarPACES Task I is enabling the entry of CSP systems into the commercial market place. The component development and research efforts of Task III logically feed Task I as new components become parts of new systems.  In return, the results of this Task I provide direction to Task III on new component needs.

Organization and structure

The Task I Operating Agent is responsible for organization and reporting of Task I activities. Due to the desire of CSP developers and other stakeholders to promote and increase the financeability of CSP projects, Task I has focused on the following subtasks:

  • The development and population of an international project database for commercial CSP systems under operation, construction, or development. http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces
  • The development of acceptance test procedures and standards for CSP systems.
  • The development of a Guideline for Bankable STE Yield Assessment.
  • The value of CSP in electricity markets with variable energy sources. 

Status of the Technology

Between 1985 and 1991, some 354 MW of solar trough technology were deployed in the U.S. in southern California. These plants are still in commercial operation today and have demonstrated the potential for long-term viability of CSP. Worldwide, CSP has seen a resurgence of interest for markets in the USA, Spain, South Africa, India and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. As of the end of 2015, global deployment of CSP has increased to 4,500 MW. As shown in Figure 1, CSP capacity has grown significantly since 2009 (IEA, 2014). This growth has been particularly concentrated in Spain and the U.S., although other countries began increasing CSP capacity at a greater rate starting in 2013. During this period, annual CSP investments increased nearly 280% to $6.9 billion.

IEA 2014

 Figure 1. Global cummulative growth of CSP capacity (Source: IEA, 2014)

Task Reports

Utility-Scale Parabolic Trough Solar Systems: Performance Acceptance Test Guidelines

Utility-Scale Power Tower Systems: Performance Acceptance Test Guidelines

SolarPACES Guideline for Bankable STE Yield Assessment