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Electricity generation costs of concentrated solar power technologies in China based on operational plants

Publication date: Available online 6 August 2015
Author(s): Zhao Zhu, Da Zhang, Peggy Mischke, Xiliang Zhang
Recent years witnessed a sharp increase of CSP (concentrated solar power) plants around the world. CSP is currently at its early stage in China, with several demonstration and utility-scale plants underway. China’s rising electricity demand, the severe environmental pollution from coal-fired power plants, and favorable renewable energy policies are expected to result in a large-scale CSP deployment in the next years. Detailed CSP studies for China are however hardly available. To fill this knowledge gap, this study collects plant-specific data in a national CSP database in collaboration with local CSP experts. On this basis, this study analyzes and benchmarks the costs of parabolic trough CSP, tower CSP, and dish CSP technologies in China by applying an LCOE (levelized cost of electricity) model. The current LCOE for the different CSP plants falls in a range of 1.2–2.7 RMB/kWh (0.19–0.43 US$/kWh). Among the three CSP technology variants discussed, our sensitivity analysis indicates that the tower CSP variant might have the greatest potential in China. We expect a future cost reduction potential of more than 50% in 2020 and a high share of local content manufacturing for tower CSP.

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