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Concentrated Solar Power: Actual Performance and Foreseeable Future in High Penetration Scenarios of Renewable Energies

  • Carlos de Castro
  • Iñigo Capellán-Pérez
Review Paper

Abstract

Analyses proposing a high share of concentrated solar power (CSP) in future 100% renewable energy scenarios rely on the ability of this technology, through storage and/or hybridization, to partially avoid the problems associated with the hourly/daily (short-term) variability of other variable renewable sources such as wind or solar photovoltaic. However, data used in the scientific literature are mainly theoretical values. In this work, the actual performance of CSP plants in operation from publicly available data from four countries (Spain, the USA, India, and United Arab Emirates) has been estimated for three dimensions: capacity factor (CF), seasonal variability, and energy return on energy invested (EROI). In fact, the results obtained show that the actual performance of CSP plants is significantly worse than that projected by constructors and considered by the scientific literature in the theoretical studies: a CF in the range of 0.15–0.3, low standard EROI (1.3:1–2.4:1), intensive use of materials—some scarce, and significant seasonal intermittence. In the light of the obtained results, the potential contribution of current CSP technologies in a future 100% renewable energy system seems very limited.

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work has been partially developed under the MEDEAS Project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No. 691287. Iñigo Capellán-Pérez also acknowledges financial support from the Juan de la Cierva Research Fellowship of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of Spain (No. FJCI-2016-28833).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is not conflict of interest.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Applied Physics Department, Escuela de ArquitecturaUniversity of ValladolidValladolidSpain
  2. 2.Research Group on Energy, Economy and System DynamicsUniversity of ValladolidValladolidSpain

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