IRENA Report Analyzes Costs and Future Potential of Concentrating Solar Power

IRENA6 June 2012: The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has released a report titled "Renewable Energy Technologies: Cost Analysis Series – Concentrating Solar Power," which finds that while costs of concentrating solar power (CSP) are still high, significant cost reduction potential exists, but will require large investments.

The report provides an overview of CSP technologies, global CSP market trends, the current cost of CSP, CSP cost reduction potentials, and the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) from CSP. It finds that as the deployment of CSP is still in its infancy, costs are high, but expects that cost reductions can arise from improvements in CSP plant designs, more experience with operating larger numbers of CSP plants, increased research and development, mass production of components, and increased competition in technology providers. However, the report predicts that significant investments will need to be made to realize these cost reductions.

The report further finds that one of the advantages of CSP plants using thermal energy storage is their ability to schedule output, which, even though installed costs are higher, allows a CSP plant to decouple electricity generation from sunshine and cover peak demand in the evening, which makes this technology potentially more competitive than other, more intermittent renewables.

The report is part of IRENA's Renewable Energy Technologies: Cost Analysis Series, a set of five reports on wind, biomass, hydropower, concentrating solar power and solar pholtovoltaics that address the current costs of key renewable power technology options. [IRENA Press Release] [Publication: Renewable Energy Technologies: Cost Analysis Series – Concentrating Solar Power]