Concentrated Solar Power and Thermal Energy Storage (Part of the Energy Colloquium series)

Concentrated solar power (CSP) is at a turning point with the low cost of silicon photovoltaic cells making many projects uneconomic. In this talk I will briefly summarise the present state of concentrated photovoltaics (CPV), where a cost advantage is attempted through concentrating sunlight onto high efficiency photocells, before going on to describe the development of concentrated solar thermal power (CSTP). CSTP power plants can include thermal energy storage, which can improve the capacity factor significantly and have a notable effect on cost. How CSPT might become competitive in the future and its potential in other areas such as solar fuels is discussed. Finally the role of thermal storage on its own in energy systems will be considered.