A hybrid Concentrated Solar Power-PV plant with 13 hours of storage is the lowest cost power generation option for low-carbon baseload power in Chile, researchers at the Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation said in a new report.

The researchers studied four hybrid plant concepts and found that a combined CSP solar tower and PV plant with 13 hours of storage capacity would have a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of $53/MWh if operated without generation restrictions.

Chile’s strong solar resources and vast land areas suit large-scale CSP plants. (Image credit: EIG)

In comparison, a gas-fired plant would have a LCOE of $86/MWh, based on a load factor of 85% and a variable fuel cost of $2/MMBtu. In an earlier study, the Fraunhofer foundation estimated the LCOE of a stand-alone CSP plant at $76/MWh.

«Thus, solar hybrid plants under a particular set of conditions are shown to be more cost-effective than their closest competitor for the Chilean grid while still providing significant dispatchability and flexibility,» the researchers said.

           Levelised CSP costs, auction prices



Source: International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), 2020.

Chile aims to become carbon neutral by 2040 and developer EIG will soon bring online the first large-scale CSP plant in Latin America in Chile’s Atacama Desert. The 110 MW Cerro Dominador 1 plant features a record 17.5 hours of molten salt thermal energy storage capacity and will be combined with an operational 100 MW PV plant to supply power 24 hours a day.

Chile is expected to tender for more CSP capacity in the coming years and developers predict new record-low CSP prices.