Funding Program: SuNLaMP
SunShot Subprogram: Systems Integration
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $612,500

This project will investigate concentrating solar power (CSP) and its ability to increase the overall penetration of solar energy while lessening the variability impacts of solar photovoltaics (PV). CSP is unique among solar technologies in that it can provide dispatchable energy through high-efficiency thermal energy storage. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will analyze next-generation CSP plants and their ability to provide valuable grid services.


Researchers will analyze the ability of CSP to provide inertia and primary frequency response in an effort to support solar penetration of up to 100% while grid operations and reliability standards are still met. This research includes investigating the ability of solar peaking plants to provide electrical capacity and potential methods to reduce forecast errors. Throughout the project, the team will engage the key stakeholders, ensuring the analysis is timely and relevant to system planners, operators, and regulators, while effectively communicating project results and methods.


This project will deliver valuable insights into the benefits of CSP in providing multiple grid integration services. The analysis and model development will improve the ability of utilities to evaluate the potential use of CSP with high-penetration solar portfolios. Researchers will demonstrate CSP in a standard capacity expansion framework, incorporating the ability of CSP to provide multiple load management services. It will also evaluate capacity credit, dispatch, and ability of solar generation at peak times to provide an alternative to conventional thermal plants.