DOE Announces $72 Million to Advance High-Temperature Concentrating Solar Power Systems

15 May 2018

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $72 million for new projects to advance high-temperature concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies. These projects will extend previous research on high-temperature components, develop them into integrated assemblies, and test these components and systems through a wide range of operational conditions.

CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a focused point where it is collected and converted into heat. This thermal energy can be stored and used to produce electricity whenever it is needed. The best commercially available technologies can only reach 565 °C. The high-temperature thermal systems targeted by this program seek to achieve at least 700 °C, which would boost the efficiency and lower the cost of the electricity. If successful, these projects will lower the cost of a CSP system by approximately $0.02 per kilowatt-hour, which is 40 percent of the way to the office’s 2030 cost goals of $0.05 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for baseload CSP plants.

“DOE has led the world in CSP research,” said Daniel Simmons, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “These projects will help facilitate the next wave of new technologies and continue the effort to maintain American leadership in this space.”

Through the Generation 3 CSP (Gen3 CSP) program, three teams have been selected to compete to build an integrated system that can efficiently receive solar heat and deliver it to a working fluid at greater than 700 °C temperature, while incorporating thermal energy storage. Over the first 2-year period, those teams will work de-risk various aspects of diversified CSP technology pathways, prepare a detailed design for a test facility, and be subjected to a rigorous review process to select a single awardee to construct their proposed facility. If selected, they will receive an additional $25 million over the subsequent three years to build a test facility that allows diverse teams of researchers, laboratories, developers and manufacturers to remove key technological risks for the next generation CSP technology. Those awardees and their phase one funding include:

  • Brayton Energy (Hampton, New Hampshire): $7.6 million 
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, Colorado): $7 million 
  • Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, New Mexico): $9.5 million 

In addition to this process, eight awardees have been selected to develop either component-level technology or utilize unique cross-cutting research capabilities that support the goal of a successful integrated testing site. Those awardees include:

  • Electric Power Research Institute (Palo Alto, California): $1.5 million 
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia): $2 million 
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia): $1.4 million 
  • University of Tulsa (Tulsa, Oklahoma): $1.5 million 
  • Hayward Tyler (Colchester, Vermont): $2 million 
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts): $1.8 million 
  • Mohawk Innovative Technology (Albany, New York): $1.3 million 
  • Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana): $2 million 

DOE has provided an additional $10 million in funding to national labs to support this work. These projects will help to expand the foundational knowledge necessary to building this test site. Partnered labs include:

  • Idaho National Laboratory  (Idaho Falls, Idaho): $1 million 
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, Colorado): $1 million 
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory  (Oak Ridge, Tennessee): $4.3 million 
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory  (Oak Ridge, Tennessee): $1 million 
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory  (Oak Ridge, Tennessee): $1 million 
  • Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, New Mexico): $1 million 
  • Savannah River National Laboratory (Jackson, South Carolina): $700,000 

DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office | http://www.energy.gov