The Energy Department’s advanced CSP/TES project comes under the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The role of Abengoa Solar will be to manage the systems integration end of things and perform technical-financial analysis, all with the aim of keeping the cost of the technology down.
The cost factor is critical because CSP is typically more expensive than photovoltaic cell technology, leading some solar cell fans to look down upon CSP.
However, the “built-in” thermal energy storage feature of CSP is a key advantage (see yesterday’s post for a brief overview of CSP/TES). It enables CSP plants to keep generating clean electricity long after the sun goes down.
There’s also a ripple effect on other forms of clean energy tech, namely solar cells and wind turbines. By introducing more time-shifting capability, CSP/TES can create more space on the grid for technology that only functions when the sun shines or when the wind blows.