150 MW is the ideal plant size, according to the new Concentrated Solar Power Parabolic Trough: Cost & Performance Report.
The new report looks at how the development of larger than 50 MW concentrated solar thermal energy plants in the US (from 100 to 280 MW) has revealed cost saving benefits. When increasing plant capacity, the relatively lower cost of components will contribute to a lower Levelized Energy Cost (LCOE).
This is because suppliers will be able to provide better prices for components, due to higher volume purchases. However, while scaling up the plant size will lead to a general decrease in the LCOE mainly due to power block savings ($/MW). “The impact of plant size on other factors such as parasitic losses and operations and maintenance (O&M) cost may not be well understood” says Carlos Márquez, Head of Research at CSP Today.
The report found that the optimal plant size of a Parabolic Trough plant occurs at a juncture between maximum scale up benefits and minimal drawbacks. The CSP Parabolic Trough: Cost & Performance Report simulated five different plant sizes with 7.5 hours of thermal storage (TES), in comparison to smaller and larger plant sizes, the 150 MW plant size was identified as the optimal plant with a reduction of 12% to 18% in LCOE correlated to the plant scale up.
Knowing how to achieve the most energy at the lowest cost from parabolic trough CSP is vital as parabolic trough accounts for more than 98% of total operating concentrating solar power plants and 70% of plants under construction.
The data for the Concentrated Solar Power Parabolic Trough Report: Cost & Performance was collected from more than 45 interviews with CSP developers, component manufacturers and leading scientists in the field in order to deliver 100% impartial and scientific assessment of the current cost of Parabolic Trough.
The Concentrated Solar Power Parabolic Trough Report examines the technological, financial and commercial factors that shape the costs of Parabolic Trough CSP.