Today a kick-off meeting will launch a new SolarPACES activity, recently approved for funding in the last SolarPACES ExCo meeting held in Cape Town, South Africa. This activity will focus on evaluating the role and value of CSP electricity in a series of country specific system integration studies. It brings together a group of experts from different countries and has identified a simplified methodology that can be considered as potential first step in order to provide an initial assessment on how to reliably support the electric load in a country or region and to identify what role CSP can play in this context. While the model and corresponding results are based on some simplifying assumptions, they can serve as a basis for discussion with regional stakeholders and to communicate the deficiency of rating technologies solely on their Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE). Our hope is that such analysis may help to trigger more detailed grid integration studies in the identified target markets.
The tool proposed for this effort is designed to calculate, for a given load demand and a predefined capacity of variable renewable energy systems like wind or PV, the technology mix with the lowest generation cost that is able to reliably cover the load curve. Concentrating solar power (CSP) is a valuable source of flexibility as it can be easily combined with thermal storage and/or a co-firing unit guaranteeing electricity production in the presence of fluctuating levels of solar irradiation. With the developed method, a first estimate of the value of CSP electricity generation in a system context can be given in comparison to alternative technologies. The method has been developed by a team of RWTH Aachen University and applied in a national energy study on the German energy system in 2050.