This project supports the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) core capabilities in concentrating solar power (CSP) systems analysis, including upgrades to NREL’s System Advisor Model (SAM), market analysis of CSP technologies, and cost benchmarking of CSP components. SAM is a performance and financial model designed to facilitate decision making for people involved in the renewable energy industry. The SAM tool will also be upgraded to facilitate the technoeconomic analysis of state-of-the-art CSP technologies currently under development by the SunShot Initiative subprogram as well as others in the CSP community.
Researchers are tracking CSP component and system costs as reported by the industry and performing targeted cost validation on key subsystems. Upgrades to SAM include: advanced modeling capabilities for supercritical carbon dioxide power cycles to increase simulation speed and accuracy; optical performance of power tower systems to allow modeling of non-standard solar fields; and thermal-application modules for non-power-generating applications of concentrated solar thermal energy.
The tools developed under this project will allow researchers to estimate system performance with a high degree of accuracy and speed, including that of emerging systems, which may not yet be well defined. This research will allow the industry to explore new markets for CSP technologies and spur additional deployment with lower overall CSP technology costs. Modeling tools will also be able to capture and quantify the value offered by thermal energy storage and help to integrate innovations like high-temperature receiver and power system designs with existing CSP subsystems.