Potential for concentrating solar power to provide baseload and dispatchable power

Stefan Pfenninger*, Paul Gauché, Johan Lilliestam, Kerstin Damerau, Fabian Wagner, Anthony Patt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have demonstrated the possibility of maintaining a reliable electric power system with high shares of renewables, but only assuming the deployment of specific technologies in precise ratios, careful demand-side management, or grid-scale storage technologies. Any scalable renewable technology that could provide either baseload or dispatchable power would allow greater flexibility in planning a balanced system, and therefore would be especially valuable. Many analysts have suggested that concentrating solar power (CSP) could do just that. Here we systematically test this proposition for the first time. We simulate the operation of CSP plant networks incorporating thermal storage in four world regions where CSP is already being deployed, and optimize their siting, operation and sizing to satisfy a set of realistic demand scenarios. In all four regions, we show that with an optimally designed and operated system, it is possible to guarantee up to half of peak capacity before CSP plant costs substantially increase.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-692
Number of pages4
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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