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This project will develop a new kind of concentrating solar power (CSP) system that can be used in place of peaking natural gas power plants. A new molten-salt tower peaker concept is being developed that can provide the same capacity and ancillary benefits and is designed for rapid deployment. This new design allows flexible dispatch of solar power so electricity can be generated when it is needed by utilities. The low cost and efficient thermal energy storage inherent in molten-salt tower technology allows a complete separation of the collection of solar energy from when power is generated.
The project team will develop a design based on lessons learned from recent CSP plants that includes new advanced heliostat technology. The plant and equipment will be designed to allow rapid deployment of the plant, ideally in 24 months or less. The team will develop a detailed engineering, procurement, and construction plan that clearly defines the steps that are required to deploy a commercial project on this timeline. The procurement plan will identify vendors that will provide performance guaranties for all key equipment. The design of the plant will be adapted to address some of the key siting/permitting issues that adversely affect public perception of tower projects.
This project will make CSP plants competitive with fossil peaker plants at today’s gas prices. The modular, easily-replicable CSP plant will have faster development and construction times than CSP plants that are in current use. The technology aims to drive a 20-30% reduction in cost and will also enable higher penetration of variable resources, like photovoltaics and wind, while maintaining grid reliability requirements.