Thermal energy storage key to CSP

Thermal energy storage is playing an increasingly important role in the commercialisation of concentrated solar power (CSP), according to our media partner CSP Today.

In a recent interview Kristin Hunter, spokesperson for BrightSource Energy, developers of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, explained to CSP Today that “as energy storage is added to plants, solar thermal becomes even more valuable because stored energy can be used to accommodate the variability of other non-dispatchable renewables, including wind and PV.”

In addition, CSP with storage can modify ramp rates, keeping them more in line with grid requirements, because plant operators have the flexibility to stop putting solar energy into the grid at a given time, or if needed, put more power into the grid.

Because the addition of thermal energy storage involves additional capital costs for a project, the current perception is that this cost is too high when compared to technologies such as wind and PV.

However, in a recent interview with CSP Today, Tex Wilkins, executive director of the CSP Alliance, explained that “going forward, storage will not add anything to ratepayers’ cost. It can actually decrease the cost. What happens is you are able to better use the turbine, the generator and all the power block because you are using it for more hours of the day.”

To explain the benefits that CSP and thermal energy storage can offer grid operators and utilities, CSP Today has released a guide to CSP’s role in the US energy mix. This guide provides data, information and interviews on how CSP and its storage technology can help utilities and grid operators overcome PV and wind intermittency.

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