CSP with storage could rise in importance to the overall energy mix, according to recent studies.
In a recent study the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), simulated the value of CSP in the energy grid in California in a scenario where 33% of the energy mix was sourced from renewables. It looked at the value of CSP with thermal energy storage (TES) to plants without storage. The incremental value of CSP with TES was $30/MWh to $51/MWh compared to a baseload resource, or $32/MWh to $40/MWh compared to PV.
Because the storage capacity of CSP allows for timed release of power into the grid, CSP’s value to the overall energy mix is high. The California report follows a similar study conducted in Colorado last year and drew similar conclusions. The figures were arrived at using a combination of avoided fuel (and associated emissions) as well as reduced operations and maintenance (O&M) and power plant start costs. In addition to operational value, generators add capacity value to the system that can be estimated by examining generator operation during periods of high net demand.